Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad has expressed interest in seeking justice in the gruesome 2006 killing of a Mongolian model linked to a submarines acquisition scandal that plagued the recently ousted ruling coalition, her father said Tuesday, ahead of a meeting with the prime minister.
Altantuya Shaariibuu was 28 years old and pregnant when she was shot dead and her body blown up with military-grade explosives in a remote jungle outside Kuala Lumpur in October 2006.
Her father, Setev Shaariibuu, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur he was surprised that Mahathir was willing to meet him, adding he would ask the PM to reopen the case.
“I understand the PM is interested in seeking justice for this case,” Setev said through an interpreter after meeting with new Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas for about an hour in Putrajaya, the nation’s administrative center.
“I am full of hope that the new government will do everything under its power to render justice and bring an end to grief and suffering of my family.”
Setev was accompanied by his lawyer, Ramkarpal Singh, who said he was confident the investigation would be reopened based on the existence of new “leads,” but did not elaborate.
A BenarNews source confirmed that the meeting between Setev and Mahathir is to take place Wednesday afternoon. Prior to that, Setev is expected to lodge a police report and urge authorities to reopen the murder probe.
Altantuya Shaariibuu worked as a translator during the Malaysian government’s negotiations for the purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines from French shipbuilding giant DCNI in 2002. She was also reportedly the mistress of Abdul Razak Baginda, a defense analyst close to then-Defense Minister Najib Razak.
Two police officers who were serving as members of Najib’s personal security detail at the time were convicted of the murder and sentenced to death, but the court did not establish their motive. One of them fled to Australia, where he is being held at an immigration detention center since January 2015.
Abdul Razak was tried but acquitted of abetting the crime. The court has not determined who planned the killing. Najib, the now former prime minister whose Barisan Nasional coalition was trounced in the May 9 general election, has denied any links to the killing and rejected allegations of corruption in the purchase of the submarines.
When contacted by BenarNews on Tuesday, Abdul Razak declined to comment on the latest developments which took place less than a month after Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga wrote a letter urging the new government to find justice.
Altantuya’s alleged affair with Abdul Razak emerged after reports said that, soon before her death, she had demanded a payoff for working as a language translator in the submarine deal.
Altantuya left behind two sons who now are 20 and 14. The younger boy is disabled and bedridden. Her death devastated her family as she was the breadwinner, Setev said.
Malaysia struck the U.S. $1.1 billion (4.4 billion ringgit) deal in 2002 with France’s state-controlled warship builder DCN International.
Malaysian human rights group Suaram alleged that the sale resulted in about $130 million (520 million ringgit) in commissions being paid to a shell company linked to Abdul Razak.
Najib, who was ousted from office after the stunning defeat of his coalition in the May 9 election, has also been questioned by the anti-graft commission probing allegations that billions of dollars had been siphoned from the state fund known as 1MDB.