The case of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, far from being just a run-of-the-mill murder, was a sensational scandal that shook Malaysia’s government due to its alleged link to official corruption and a high-level cover-up. On Tuesday, the conviction and death sentences of two police officers for her murder were upheld by a Malaysian court.
Here are a few things to know about the case:
1. Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, was a Mongolian model and translator.
2. She was the former girlfriend of Mr Abdul Razak Baginda, a prominent political analyst, head of a well-known defence-related think-tank and speechwriter for Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Mr Najib was then Malaysia’s deputy prime minister.
3. On Oct 18, 2006, she was killed and her body blown up with C4 military-grade explosives in 2006 at a forest in Shah Alam, Selangor. Her remains were found scattered around the area.
4. Mr Abdul Razak was charged with abetting the murder, but acquitted in 2008.
5. But two police commandos, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, members of an elite unit who were part of Mr Najib’s security detail at the time, were convicted of her murder and sentenced to death by the High Court in 2009.
6. The Court of Appeal in August 2013 overturned the case against the two police officers, and set them free.
7. Government prosecutors filed an appeal against their acquittal, and the country’s highest court, the Federal Court, heard the appeal last year. It has now upheld the convictions.
8. Ms Altantuya was involved in the negotiations for the Malaysian government’s US$1.1 billion purchase in 2002 of French Scorpene submarines, with Mr Abdul Razak in charge of the deal. Allegations have been made that officials accepted massive kickbacks in the deal, and Ms Altantuya was silenced over her knowledge of the deal.
9. The murder has become a political hot potato for the Najib administration, with the opposition alleging an official cover-up and trying to pin Mr Najib to the case.
10. The controversy has led to Mr Najib swearing in a mosque that he did not know the victim.
Sources: Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Straits Times archives