Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Policemen sentenced to death in Altantuya's case

Two Malaysian police officers have been sentenced to death by the Malaysian court for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a Mongolian national who was brutally murdered in Shah Alam suburbs near Kuala Lumpur in October 2006. These are the first convictions in the the trial which has been going on for the past 159 days.

Abdul Razak Baginda, a high-profile political analyst and a former advisor to then-Deputy and now Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, was found not guilty of abetting in the murder and acquitted in October, 2008. He was romantically involved with the Mongolian national and claims Altantuya was in Kuala Lumpur to blackmail him. She was abducted by the policemen from in front of Abdul Razak's home, taken to a secluded area in Shah Alam and murdered. 

The media in SouthEast Asia have been publishing erroneous and confusing accounts of the case. Many tabloids and newspapers initially published photos of a Korean actress as Altantuya's photos, and many continue to refer to her as the "Mongolian model", even after her mother pointed out in an interview that Altantuya never worked as a model. It's probably obvious to anyone that the tabloids are interested in the case because of its high-profile political connections to the current Prime Minister of Malaysia. The opponents of the PM have been using her case to hurt his political campaigns and rumours abound that the police had banned  the mentioning of her name during the campaigns. More ridiculously, two men were recently arrested for selling cardboard masks of Altantuya.

The saddest truth in the case is perhaps the fact that the real culprits, those who ordered the policemen to murder, will probably never be brought to justice.