KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — Two former police commandos convicted of killing Mongolian Altantuya Shaaribuu successfully defeated their 2009 conviction after the Court of Appeal overturned the decision on the high-profile 2006 murder today.

In a unanimous decision by a three-man panel, the appellate court ruled that Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar be allowed to appeal their charges.

The panel of Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali, Datuk Linton Albert and Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat decided that the High Court had erred when it had made its decision in the murder scandal.

Azilah and Sirul, both formerly with the police’s Special Action Unit (UTK), were found guilty in 2009 of committing the offence in Mukim Bukit Raja in Klang between 10pm on October 19, 2006 and 1am on October 20, 2006.

During the course of their trial, it was revealed that the Mongolian model was shot and her body blown-up with explosives in a jungle clearing on the night of October 19.

The two had been charged under section 149 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.

Altantuya was said to have acted as a translator for Perimekar Sdn Bhd in Malaysia’s multi-billion ringgit purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines from French firm DCNS, prior to her murder.

Perimekar is owned by Abdul Razak Baginda, and reportedly received RM574 million in commission for providing support and co-ordination services to Putrajaya for the 2002 deal, back when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the defence minister.

Abdul Razak was initially charged with abetting Azilah and Sirul but was acquitted on October 31, 2008, after the Shah Alam High Court ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

Azilah and Sirul will be released from Sungai Buloh Prison today once documentation is complete.

The prosecution led by Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah said it will appeal today’s decision.