Former Malaysian policeman Sirul Azhar Umar has made startling revelations regarding the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, claiming he received RM1 million (S$286,500) in hush money during his detention in Australia.
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera’s 101 East program, Sirul revealed that the payment, facilitated by a prominent politically connected lawyer and a high-ranking Cabinet member, was to ensure his silence regarding the murder case.
Insisting on his innocence, Sirul labeled himself a pawn in a political maneuver and emphasized his non-involvement in Altantuya’s tragic demise, despite being convicted of the crime.
While refraining from divulging the identity of the mastermind behind Altantuya’s murder, Sirul asserted that a top politician had given the directive.
“For many years, people in my country have been waiting to know who gave the order to kill Altantuya, but I cannot reveal that,” he said.
Concerned for his safety, Sirul expressed reluctance to return to Malaysia, citing a desire to establish a secure life for himself and his child in Australia. Pleading for a second chance and acceptance within the Australian community, he conveyed his affection for the country.
“I feel danger to return (to Malaysia) as I feel it’s unsafe and want to build a life with my child here in Australia.
“I love Australia and urge the community here to give me a second chance and accept us,” he added.
Acknowledging his association with a well-connected figure linked to Altantuya, Sirul extended an apology to her family, seeking their forgiveness.
Altantuya was abducted and killed in Shah Alam in 2006, her remains destroyed with military-grade explosives. Sirul, alongside Azilah Hadri, former bodyguards of ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak, was convicted of the murder in 2009. However, the Court of Appeal overturned their conviction in 2013, leading to their release.
Following the prosecution’s appeal, Sirul fled to Australia, where the Federal Court upheld the conviction and reinstated the death penalty. Abdul Razak Baginda, a former political analyst charged in connection with the case, was acquitted in 2008 due to insufficient evidence.
Sirul’s arrest by Australian immigration authorities in 2015 did not result in deportation due to Australia’s policy against extraditing individuals facing the death penalty.
A ruling by the Australian High Court on November 8, 2022, deemed indefinite immigration detention unlawful, although provisions for appropriate visa conditions to protect the local community remained.
Recently, on December 16, 2022, the High Court ordered Sirul, Azilah, Abdul Razak, and the Malaysian government to collectively pay RM5 million in damages to Altantuya’s family following a lawsuit.
The case continues to unfold, shedding light on the complexities and ongoing developments surrounding Altantuya’s tragic death.
Watch the full interview here.