The prime minister, the private investigator, the murder of a Mongolian model, and 114 million euros

The remaining loose ends are being tied off in the seemingly determined efforts to ensure Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Tun Razak, is not embroiled in the still unresolved murder by two of his bodyguards of a Mongolian model and translator.
Distancing the prime minister from the murder also creates some space between Najib and 114 million euros ($160 million) in “consulting fees” paid by the French warship manufacturer DCN for Malaysia’s order of two Scorpene submarines when Najib was defence minister. Malaysia’s law minister, Nazri Aziz, has told parliament that authorities have closed the case against private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, the man who tied Najib to the 2006 murder of 27-year old model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Altantuya worked as translator for Najib and his close friend and adviser on defence matters, Abdul Razak Baginda, in the negotiations with the French.
Balasubramaniam has said she told him she was to be paid $500,000 for her part in the submarine deal. Balasubramaniam was facing charges of making false statements after he made a statutory declaration in July, 2007, that Najib, then the deputy prime minister, was Altantuya’s lover and involved in her murder. The private detective said Najib had handed Altantuya on to become his friend Baginda’s lover when the opportunity for Najib to become prime minister presented itself. Two of Najib’s bodyguards, Chief Insp. Azilah Hadri and Cpl. Sirul Azhar Umar, were convicted of Altantuya’s murder in April last year. But the day after Balasubramaniam filed the declaration, he made another one saying the first was written under duress. He then left the country, but popped up in Britain last year to say the first statement implicating Najib was the correct one. When last heard of, Balasubramaniam was in India. Law Minister Nazri said the case against the private eye was being dropped because “although there are contradictions between the two statutory declarations, the contradictions do not affect the outcome of the trial” of the bodyguards. This leap of logic has left many Malaysians gasping. Although they are well used to seeing their legal system tailored to political requirements, the events around the Altantuya case have stretched credibility beyond the bounds of reality. Balasubramaniam entered the case in 2006 when he was hired by Baginda. Baginda had recently jilted Altantuya, but she refused to accept the end of the affair and wanted her share of the 114 million euros the French state-owned shipbuilder DCN had paid to a consulting company set up by Baginda. Altantuya took to demonstrating loudly outside Baginda’s house in Kuala Lumpur and he hired Balasubramaniam to keep her away from him.
But on the evening of Oct. 19, 2006, the two bodyguards bundled Altantuya into a car and drove her to the jungle outside Kuala Lumpur, where they shot her in the head and blew up her body with C-4 military explosives.
In one statement, one of the bodyguards said they were paid 100,000 Malaysian ringgits ($36,000) to commit the murder. In another statement, one said they blew up the body because Altantuya begged them not to kill her because she was pregnant. The idea was to make it impossible to identify the father. With oversight that defies imagination, no one asked either of the bodyguards during the 159-day trial who had given them the money to kill her. But very early in the proceedings, before any significant evidence had been heard, the judge saw fit to dismiss charges against Baginda, saying there was no case for him to answer. Baginda promptly hightailed it to Britain, where he has remained since. But there are still a couple of dangerous loose ends in the story over which the government of Prime Minister Najib does not have full control.
One is that the government of Mongolia has said it will fund a civil suit by Altantuya’s family against the Malaysian government and Baginda.
The other is that French prosecutors continue to investigate the 114-million euros kickback given by DCN to secure the submarine sale to Malaysia.
Source: Vancouver Sun 
November 15, 2010 
by Jonathan Manthorpe

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