Malaysian murder a tale of love gone wrong

A well-placed Malaysian political analyst facing charges of conspiring

to murder a young Mongolian woman has admitted to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur that he was

having an affair with the victim and giving her large sums of money.

Abdul Razak Baginda, 46, carried on a romance with Altantuya

Shaariibuu, 28, from the end of 2004 into the middle of 2005 in several

countries ‑ Hong Kong, China, Singapore, France and Malaysia – and gave the

woman US$10,000 on three occasions, the court was told Friday.

The admission was contained in a statement recorded by Abdul

Razak on 31 October last year and read out to the court by his lawyer to support

a formal bail application. The affidavit also directly implicated a police officer

who is charged with carrying out the slaying.

On Friday the court rejected the application and denied

bail. Abdul Razak had initially been granted bail in December, prompting a

public outcry and charges of political favoritism. The trial is scheduled to start in March 2008.

Shaariibuu was murdered between, 10pm on Oct 19 and 1am on

Oct 20, according to police. Her body was found in a patch of jungle near the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam after she had been shot

twice and torn apart with hand grenades available only to Malaysia’s

security forces. Abdul Razak is accused of ordering the slaying.

Abdul Razak’s lawyer, Wong Kian Kheong, had submitted the affidavit

admitting to the affair to demonstrate that there was no reason to believe that

his client was guilty and therefore should be granted bail, according to the Bernama

News Agency.

Given Abdul Razak’s close ties to Deputy Prime Minister Najib

Abdul Razak and the alleged involvement of the elite police Special Action Unit

in the murder, the sordid case has drawn enormous interest in Malaysia.

Asked about the relationship, Wong told the court Razak was "Having

affair" with the beautiful victim.

According to the lawyer, at the end of 2005, Abdul Razak

stopped giving money to Shaaribuu and filed a police report on October 23 accusing

the woman of harassment.

Abdul Razak met Shaaribuu, whom he called Aminah, in 2004, the

affidavit said, and was told that she was a student looking for “side income.” Shaaribuu

allegedly told Abdul Razak she had financial problems owing to her mother's bout with cancer and he agreed to help

her.

“In a desperate situation, Abdul Razak succumbed to the

woman’s threats and gave her the money,” Wong told the court, adding that the payments

lasted for three years.

Meanwhile, other press reports said that Abdul Razak’s witness

statement claimed he was "not so stupid" as to kill the woman when he

could have complained to the police and had her deported.

Shaaribuu, who was a free-lance translator, came to Kuala Lumpur to look for

Abdul Razak, who is married, on October 6. She had claimed that he was father

of her son.

On Oct 19, Abdul Razak said in the statement, he was told by

a private investigator that Shaaribuu had gone to his house but nobody was at

home.

Following this, he said he called Chief Inspector Azilah

Hadri, 30, one of the two officers accused of the slaying, for help but told

him not to hurt the woman.

Later that night Azilah called Abdul Razak and told him, "tonight

encik (sir), you can sleep well," the affidavit said.

Azilah is charged along with Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, with

murdering Shaaribuu.

The private investigator told Abdul Razak that Shaaribuu was

taken away in a car by three people outside his house.