Malaysian convicted of model murder was 'under orders'

- Former police officer was convicted in case allegedly linked to submarine deal

By P Prem Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR (AA) - A former Malaysian police officer convicted of the murder of a glamorous model involved in a multi-billion dollar defense deal said Wednesday he acted "under orders," according to local media.

Sirul Azhar Umar was sentenced to death for the 2006 killing of Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu but is currently detained in Australia.

"I was under orders," he told the Malaysiakini news website. "The important people with motive are still free."

Umar, a former bodyguard to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, added: "It is not like I do not love the police or the country, but I acted under orders."

He was convicted in Malaysia with fellow police officer Azilah Hadri of killing Shaariibuu, 28, in a jungle on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in October 2006. She was shot twice in the head and her body wrapped in military-grade explosives and blown up.

Since her death, claims have been made that she was murdered to keep her silent about alleged bribery surrounding Malaysia’s 4.2 billion ringgit ($2 billion) purchase of two French-built Scorpene submarines in 2002, when Razak was the defense minister.

Her former lover Abdul Razak Baginda was a friend and adviser to Razak and was initially charged with assisting in the murder but was acquitted before giving evidence. The government did not appeal his release.

Baginda's company, Perimekar Sdn Bhd, reportedly brokered the deal and Baginda is said to have received 574 million ringgit in commission.

In a letter found after her murder, Shaariibuu said she wanted $500,000 to keep quiet about the submarine deal.

Razak has strongly denied any link to Shaariibuu, who worked as a translator in the negotiations, and the government has refuted claims of corruption in the submarine deal.

Umar, 43, and Hadri were sentenced to hang last month when their previous conviction was upheld. He had travelled to Australia before the hearing and was as detained on immigration charges on Jan. 20.

At his trial in 2009, Umar said he was "the black sheep who has been sacrificed to protect unnamed people."

In a telephone interview with Malaysiakini, he said he had been asked to "tell all" about the case by Australian media.

"I am seriously considering the possibility," Umur told the website. "I haven't decided to do the interview. But once I decide, I will surely tell all."

Australia is refusing to extradite Umar while he faces the death sentence.

www.aa.com.tr/en

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