Why there must be a Royal Commission into the murder of Altantaya Shaariibuu

Murray Hunter

The sudden release of Sirul Azhar Umar from Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on November 8, after the Australian High Court decision to free all indefinite immigration detainees, has put the issue of Altantaya’s back in the headlines once again.

Former Unit Tindakan Khas (UTK), or elite special action officers Sirul, who was convicted of Altantuya’s murder, along with Azilah Hadri, in an interview on Al-Jazeera 101 East, now claims his innocence, claiming he was ordered by a high up authority, but didn’t take part in the murder, and pleaded for a chance to live as a free man in Australia.

Sirul in the Australian media has been portrayed as a violent and coldb-looded killer, where the Australian government is under public pressure to deport him back to Malaysia, as soon as possible. However, with Sirul convicted of the murder with a death penalty still in force, Australia will not be able to deport him.

No one in the political elite wants Sirul to return to Malaysia, as there are too many incriminating questions that must be answered about who gave the order for Azilah and Sirul to murder Altnataya. In addition, Sirul’s latest interview indicated Sirul is still hiding many things. Perhaps the truth would be clearer is Sirul’s statutory declaration to the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) was made public, where he disclosed his story to Australian authorities, when applying for a protection visa. This document should be in the public domain, but is mysteriously missing from the Australian Government website.

Catch 22 situation

For Sirul to be returned to Malaysia, the government must commute the death sentence to life in prison. For his death sentence to be converted to life in prison, Sirul must apply to the court.

Given that Sirul has expressed his will to remain in Australia, there is no incentive to make application, thus creating a catch 22 to his benefit. Sirul could also apply for a pardon from the King, but this also hasn’t been done.

The need for a Royal Commission

The crucial question that must be answered is who ordered the murder of Altantaya?

Even the decade and a half civil suit brought against Azilah, Sirul, Razak Baginda, and the Malaysian government by Altantuya’s family where the three defendants were ordered to Pay RM 5 million compensation, which the defendants are now appealing, the matter of who ordered the murder is still unknown.

There are indirect pieces of evidence that points to Najib Razak, who was deputy prime minister at the time, and Musa Safri, who was Najib’s aide-de-camp. Others claim Rosmah ordered the murder.

We are still no closer to the truth.

There was no apparent motive given for Azilah and Sirul. Azilah and Sirul had never met Altantuya before the murder. Razak Baginda was acquitted without the need to put in a defence. Musa was not even called as a witness in the trial.

In the recent Al-Jazerra interview, Sirual claims he was made a scapegoat to protect higher people and was paid RM 1.0 million to keep quiet on the issue. Hasnal Rezua Merican, Sirul’s former lawyer claimed after Sirul’s interview went to air, there is not truth he paid Sirul the RM 1.0 million. So how was Sirul’s son able to buy an Audi car, he has been seen driving around Canberra in?

Other questions also remain. What happened to Perumal Balasubramaniam (PI Bala), the private investigator? PI Bala was relocated to India by a close friend of Rosmah, Deepak Jaikishan. PI Bala had a sudden heart attack and died soon after he claimed a retracted a statutory declaration was correct.

The most perplexing issue was why Najib’s aid-de-camp Musa Safri, who was closest to Najib and responsible for security was not called as a witness in the trial of Azilah and Sirul?

The final issue is why the current home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has not taken any action on requests to extradite Sirul back to Malaysia? He has also made no statement on the subject.

This is why a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) must be called to put all the above matters to rest. However, such an RCI would open up too many closets.