‘I didn’t kill her, I was paid to keep silent’

A free man: A screencap showing Sirul in the interview with Al Jazeera’s ‘101 East’ programme. — Courtesy of Al Jazeera

PETALING JAYA: While continuing to insist that he did not kill Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, ex-police commando Sirul Azhar Umar admitted to taking money for his silence.

“I didn’t do murder (sic). But yes, I am involved,” he said in an interview with Al Jazeera’s 101 East programme, while admitting that he had taken Altantuya from the house of a former political analyst on that fateful night in 2006.

“At that time (she was) still alive, then I gave her to Azilah,” said Sirul, his voice breaking as he recounted his meeting with his superior at that time, former chief inspector Azilah Hadri.

However, when asked during the interview if he had taken money to remain silent over the murder, Sirul said: “Yes, I did because I have no work, no money. Nothing. No choice. They offered and that money I spent on my son because I love my son. My son is going to grow up (in Australia). Spent a lot of money to study here and my daughter as well.”

ALSO READ: Sirul remains on Interpol’s Red Notice list

Sirul and Azilah, two of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bodyguards, were convicted of Altantuya’s murder in 2009 and sentenced to death.

Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who was charged together with Sirul and Azilah, was freed on Oct 31, 2008, after the court found no concrete evidence against him.

Meanwhile, Najib has repeatedly denied having any role in Altantuya’s murder.

In 2013, the Court of Appeal overturned the conviction and ordered Sirul and Azilah’s release.

During the prosecution’s appeal, Sirul fled to Australia where he was subsequently detained by Immigration authorities.

ALSO READ: Background on Sirul and the Altantuya case

Sirul was in Australia when the Federal Court upheld the conviction and death penalty.

He was released from Australia’s Immigration detention after nine years when an Australian High Court ruled on Nov 8 that non-citizens unable to be deported could no longer be detained indefinitely.

Sirul has been reunited with his children in Canberra and was shown on the Al Jazeera programme strolling through parks and visiting monuments in the city.

ALSO READ: Very unlikely that Sirul will be extradited now

He also recounted, in his first-ever media interview, how he took to painting and gardening while in Sydney’s Villawood Immigration detention centre as a way to deal with his incarceration.

Despite his denial about pulling the trigger on Altantunya, Sirul was grilled by Al Jazeera’s Mary Ann Jolley on why the woman’s belongings were found on him.

Al Jazeera: They found Altantuya’s jewellery in the pockets of your jacket and there were pictures at toll gates of your car going to the scene of the crime. How do you explain that evidence?

Sirul: I don’t know about the evidence. I think this is all planting (sic).

ALSO READ: No truth to Sirul's claims, says lawyer

AJ: So you didn’t leave the slippers in your car or jewellery?

Sirul: I said no. This is planting. Honestly, this is planting (sic).

AJ: But you were re-convicted in a higher court.

Sirul: Yes. At that time the prime minister is Najib (sic).

After he had fled to Australia sometime in 2016, a video emerged of Sirul saying that Najib had no part in the murder.

When this was brought up by Al Jazeera, Sirul said: This order to make the video is from my solicitor.

Al Jazeera: Your lawyer?

Sirul: True.

AJ: You were told what to say in the video?

Sirul: True.

According to Al Jazeera’s Jolley, Sirul’s lawyer at that time did not respond to a request for comment. Sirul: My solicitor was offering me a lot of money to do a video statement for Najib.

AJ: How much was he offering? Sirul: Big money in Malaysian ringgit. About RM1mil.

The ex-police sergeant went on to insist that he was a “scapegoat” in a larger “political game”.

“I’m just what they call, what the government is using me as a scapegoat. I’m a circumstantial victim honestly. I joined the police when I was 19. (They) teaching me tough discipline about obeying my superiors. Which means yes sir, yes sir and never say no.”

Sirul’s lawyer, Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican contacted by The Star denied Sirul’s claim that he had instructed Sirul to make a video exonerating Najib of any involvement in the Altantuya’s case and that he was offered RM1mil to do so.

“All I can say for now is that there is absolutely no truth to those allegations.

“I have seen parts of the video that are relevant to me. It is too early to take any steps as the allegations were made and circulated in Australia,” he added.

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Sirul Azhar Umar , Altantunya


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