KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — For Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his alleged links with the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder trial just will not go away.
Today, influential blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin put up on his website a police cautioned statement from Sirul Azhar Umar, who is a co-accused in the murder trial of the Mongolian woman, detailing how he and co-accused Azilah Hadri were expecting to be paid between RM50,000 and RM100,000 to “settle” the matter.
On the same day, French newspaper Liberation also published a story detailing grisly details of how Altantuya was allegedly killed.
According to the “cautioned statement” published by Raja Petra, Sirul claims Azilah told him of a payment of between RM50,000 and RM100,000.
But it is the article in the French newspaper which is particularly damaging to Najib’s image, and which will not be welcome as he prepares to take over the leadership of Umno and become Malaysia’s sixth prime minister at the end of the month.
The article in the Liberation details how Altantuya allegedly begged for her life before she was shot.
According to Liberation, Altantuya was allegedly shot on the left side of her face, and a second time when her assailants noticed her hand was still moving.
The newspaper says it obtained the information from a “cautioned statement” which had been leaked to its writer.
Altantuya was eventually stripped of her clothes, and explosives were placed on different parts of her body. Her assailants then allegedly set off the explosives.
But these were not the parts of the article which were particularly damaging to Najib.
The newspaper claims that Najib had indeed met with Altantuya, who was the mistress of Abdul Razak Baginda, his close aide and associate, in Paris in 2005.
A photograph was allegedly taken showing the three in a Paris nightclub, the Liberation said without providing any evidence.
The Liberation also suggested that Abdul Razak had been Najib’s intermediary for arms purchases.
In October 2006, the newspaper claims that Altantuya was informed that the commission paid by Armaris, a Spanish company involved in Malaysia’s acquisition of three submarines for one billion euros (RM4.7 billion), had been deposited in a bank account in Malaysia.
The commission of 114 million euros was allegedly paid into the account of Perimekar, a company Razak controlled.
Altantuya then allegedly flew to Kuala Lumpur to demand her share of the commission, which was to have been US$500,000.
The Liberation provided no documentary evidence of the sensational details.
But the resurfacing of these links with the Altantuya murder appears designed to embarrass Najib.
Najib has consistently denied any involvement in the murder and has also said he had never met the woman.
But the issue just will not go away, and has been used by rivals to damage his credibility and has proven to be a significant liability for the ruling Barisan Nasional government.
The Shah Alam High Court is set to deliver its verdict on Azilah and Sirul on April 9.
By Leslie Lau