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Jul 27, 2008

Murder Most Foul

malay-judgesasiasentinel | ....As Asia Sentinel has repeated frequently, according to testimony in the trial of Altantuya's accused murderer Abdul Razak Baginda, her then-lover and one of the three men accused of killing her, the murdered woman accompanied him to Paris at a time when Malaysia's defense ministry, headed by Najib, was negotiating through a Malaysian company, Perimekar Sdn Bhd, to buy two Scorpene submarines and a used Agosta submarine produced by the French government under a French-Spanish joint venture, Armaris. Perimekar at the time was owned by a company called Ombak Laut, which was wholly owned by Abdul Razak.

The contract was not competitive. The Malaysian ministry of defense paid €1 billion (RM4.5 billion) to Amaris for the three submarines, for which Perimekar received a commission of €114 million (RM510 million). Deputy Defense Minister Zainal Abdidin Zin told the Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia's parliament, that the money was paid for "coordination and support services" although the fee amounted to a whopping 11 percent of the sales price for the submarines.

Altantuya, by her own admission in the last letter she wrote before her murder, had been blackmailing Razak, pressuring him for US$500,000. She did not say how she was blackmailing him, leaving open lots of questions.

Myriad questions have been raised by the year-long trial of Razak and two of Najib's bodyguards for Altantuya's murder. At every turn, those questions could have been answered by calling Najib to the stand. How could Razak, a civilian and Najib's closest friend, get the two bodyguards to kill Altantuya without Najib's knowledge? Najib could answer. How could the record of the victim being in the country disappear completely from Immigration Department records, as was sworn in court? Najib could answer. How could the murderers get their hands on the plastic explosives available only to the military used to blow up her body? Najib could answer. Why did neither the prosecution nor the defense push to investigate a statement made by Altantuya's cousin on the stand that she had seen a picture of Najib, Razak and Altantuya together at a dinner? Najib could answer.

The statutory declaration of P Balasubramaniam, the private detective hired by Razak to keep Altantuya away from him after their relationship had ended, is so closely detailed that it beggars disbelief that it was fabricated. It makes Najib an integral part of the case, something most of Malaysia's top government and judicial officials have been seeking to avoid ever since the trial began.

Balsasubramaniam released his sworn statement in the company of his lawyer, which makes it difficult to believe he was coerced. But immediately afterward he was summoned to a meeting with an assistant superintendant of police in Jalan Brickfields, where he was convinced - outside the presence of his lawyer that his memory was faulty. He then signed a statement that his original one had been compelled, and left the country.... selanjutnya.


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