A look back at the 13 years following Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder in 2006

File photo of ex-policemen Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar (heads covered). The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on August 23, 2013 overturned their conviction of murdering Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu. — Reuters pic
File photo of ex-policemen Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar (heads covered). The Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on August 23, 2013 overturned their conviction of murdering Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — It has been more than a decade since the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. 

Two former policemen — Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar — were charged, convicted and acquitted, before their convictions were upheld.

Another man who was also charged with her murder — political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda who was a close associate of former prime minister Datuk Najib Razak — was acquitted.

In all that time, conspiracy theories have not stopped being shared in kopitiams and over social media about who the actual mastermind was.

Recently Azilah released a damning Statutory Declaration (SD) from Kajang Prison implicating Najib. This has triggered calls for a retrial of the murder while some have called it a desperate attempt by the convicts to escape the gallows.

Malay Mail takes a look back at the chronology of the case, from the time Altantuya was reported missing to the allegations against various personalities including a private investigator and a former prime minister.


- The police receive a missing person’s report on Altantuya from her cousin in October.

- Investigations show that Altantuya was shot in the head before explosives were strapped to her body before being detonated.

- Former Special Action Force (UTK) personnel Azilah and Sirul are arrested in early November for their roles in the murder, with the police then nabbing political analyst and Najib’s former confidant Abdul Razak Baginda for allegedly abetting in the crime. 

- Two weeks later, Azilah and Sirul are charged with the murder of Altantuya. Court documents show the crime took place on October 19 at a location in Mukim Bukit Raja in Selangor.


- In June, the murder and abetment trials of Azilah, Sirul, and Abdul Razak begin. During the proceedings, witnesses testify that Altantuya met Razak and Najib in France and London in 2004 and 2005. 

- In the same month, Altantuya’s father Shaariibuu Setev and his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa, as well as two of their grandsons Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga, file a civil suit against Azilah, Sirul, Razak and the Malaysian government. 

- The civil suit seeks RM100 million in compensation for the death of Altantuya. 


- In July, private investigator, P. Balasubramaniam releases a Statutory Declaration (SD) that implicates Najib as having a personal relationship with Altantuya, and how they, together with Razak, had meetings overseas. The private investigator goes on to claim that police investigations deliberately overlooked the relationship between Najib and Altantuya. 

- A day later, Balasubramaniam retracts his initial declaration and makes a second SD that omits all connections between Najib, Razak and Altantuya. 

- In October, the Shah Alam High Court acquits and discharges Razak of any wrongdoing but orders Azilah and Sirul to enter their defence after judging that the prosecution managed to prove a prima facie case against them.

- No appeal is made by the prosecution against Razak’s acquittal due to the lack of evidence against him. 


- In January, Azilah and Sirul’s defence proceedings begin with the former policemen giving sworn statements from the dock. 

- In April, the 159-day trial comes to an end with the High Court finding both Sirul and Azilah guilty of murder. Both are sentenced to death. Over the next few days, the convicted duo appeal their sentence and conviction.


- Private investigator Balasubramaniam dies from a heart attack in March.

- In August, the Court of Appeal, upon hearing the cases of both convicts, overturns their convictions and death sentences. The prosecution files an appeal with the Federal Court against the overturned convictions.


- Appeal proceedings at the Federal Court commence in June, taking a total of three days. 


- In January, the Federal Court quashes the Court of Appeal’s acquittal and upholds the High Court’s conviction and sentencing. Azilah is said to have been present when the decision was meted out, with Sirul absent. 

- It is later revealed that Sirul had absconded to Australia in 2014 while on bail, and has been detained at the Sydney Villawood detention centre ever since, while he attempts to gain asylum status there. Deportation requests have stalled as Australia does not deport individuals facing the death penalty back to their homeland.


- One of Altantuya’s sons, Altanshagai Munkhtulga, dies at the age of 15 and is removed as a party in Shaariibuu Setev’s civil suit against the government, Azilah, Sirul and Razak. 


- Following the change of government after the 14th general election, Shaariibuu Setev meets the new Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas and current Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and lodges a police report for them to reopen investigations into his daughter’s murder. 

- The police say they will reopen investigations into Altantuya’s murder. 


- On December 16, Azilah releases an SD from Kajang Prison implicating Najib as the one who gave the instructions for the execution of Altantuya. The SD claims that Najib ordered the execution of the Mongolian as she was a Russian spy who could potentially threaten national security. The former policeman asks for a retrial in order to produce new evidence. 

- Najib denies all allegations and labels the SD as a desperate attempt by Azilah to escape the gallows.

- April 20, 2020 has been set as the date that the Federal Court will hear Azilah’s application to set aside his conviction and sentencing. 

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