Abolishment of mandatory death penalty: Time to bring Sirul home to uphold truth in Altantuya’s murder

Editor’s note: The family of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu is appealing for higher compensation than the RM5 mil awarded to them by the Shah Alam High Court in a suit they filed over her death in 2006.

In the notice of appeal filed on Jan 16 this year, Altantuya’s family is cross-appealing against part of the High Court’s decision on the quantum of damages.

Recall that on Dec 16 last year, High Court Judge Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera (now Court of Appeal judge) allowed the suit by Altantuya’s family and ordered former policemen Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, and the Malaysian Government to jointly pay RM5 mil in general, aggravated and exemplary damages to the family.

Altantuya’s parents Dr Shaariibuu and Altantsetseg Sanjaa as well as his grandson Mungunshagai Bayarjargal had on June 4, 2007 filed a RM100 mil suit against Azilah, Sirul, Abdul Razak and the Malaysian Government.

In their statement of claim, Altantuya’s family said the model’s death resulted in them suffering mental shock and psychological trauma and sought compensation as well as exemplary and aggravated damages.


THE systematic cold-blooded murder of Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu that occurred back in 2006 has many unanswered questions. There are still many mysteries about the murder where military grade C4 was used to blow up the body. Justice has still not been done.

Two special action unit police officers Sirul Azhar and Azilah Hadi have been convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Altantuya although no motive was established. We are no wiser as to who ordered her death and precisely why.

After an acquittal on appeal, Sirul managed to travel to Australia. However, he was imprisoned at Sydney’s Villawood Immigration detention centre when his visa expired. He couldn’t be deported back to Malaysia because there was a death sentence involved whereby Australian policy won’t allow the deportation of a person if their life is at risk.

Sirul has been imprisoned now for eight years. Back in 2015, the Asia Sentinel news portal reported that “he is in the hands of lawyers UMNO who apparently have told him to shut up”.

One is Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican, an UMNO Youth division leader, and the other is Datuk Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, a former deputy prosecutor who represented Sirul during his original trial and who – when he received his Datukship – was described as “of UMNO headquarters”.

“Sirul, having spent the better part of the past eight years in jail, is presumably destitute or close to it,” Asia Sentinel had pointed out.

“That raises the question whether UMNO is paying for his legal fees, and raises a further question why the country’s biggest political party and the leading party in the government is paying the bills for a fugitive and convicted murderer. Sirul’s son is also being cared for in Australia by unknown sources.”

It appears that there has been some collaboration between some shady Malaysian figures and Australian authorities to keep Sirul from speaking publicly.

Sirul denies killing Altantuya, claiming he was acting on orders from a superior. He claims his mission was only to drive Altantuya to the murder site where there was a third person who actually pulled the trigger. In the 2015 Al-Jazeera documentary “Murder in Malaysia”, it was suggested there was a third person at the scene.

Sirul Azhar

In 2015, Azilah wrote a statutory declaration stating that it was Datuk Seri Najib Razak who gave the order to kill Altantuya. It was claimed she was a spy and a threat to national security.

Malaysia needs justice in this murder to prevail. There are many unanswered questions. The only way to really know is to get Azilah and Sirul back in court to testify about what really happened.

Now that the mandatory death sentence has been abolished in Malaysia, representations can be made to Australian authorities to arrange the return of Sirul through the extradition processes.

The Attorney-General (AG) can propose a deal for Azilah and Sirul so they can turn state witnesses.

It is time to get to the facts of this case so the mysteries and secrecy around the issue can be dispelled once and for all. – April 20, 2023


Australia-born Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 40 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic and researcher. He was previously an associate professor at the Universiti Malaya Perlis.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: The Times

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