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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Did Pak Lah try to nail Najib for murder?

Sulaiman Kamal | 8:45 PM | Best Blogger Tips

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Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that US embassy officials had discussed the possibility of a conspiracy against Najib.

KUALA LUMPUR: His father had whispered something and the accused appeared agitated. When the court adjourned for recess, the accused banged and kicked the door, yelling: “You can die, Pak Lah! Die, Pak Lah! I am innocent. I am innocent.”
In a startling new twist to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case, WikiLeaks had revealed diplomatic cables hinting that former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, known as Pak Lah, might had attempted to fix up his then deputy, Najib Tun Razak.
The case which haunts Najib to this day, had come close to derailing his ambition of becoming prime minister when one of his confidants, Abdul Razak Baginda, was charged with abetting the murder of the Mongolian national.
Razak was eventually acquitted while Najib had forced Abdullah to hand over the reins after Barisan Nasional’s (BN) dismal performance in the 2008 general election.
In the WikiLeaks disclosure to the Asian Sentinel, the conspiracy theory implicating Abdullah was found in a February 2008 cable from the US embassy’s political section chief Mark D Clark.
During the trial, Clark wrote, Razak “appeared uneasy throughout the morning session of court on Feb 20. Razak’s father, Abdullah Malim Baginda, had whispered something to him shortly before the trial had begun for the morning and apparently upset the accused.
“Razak remained quiet throughout the morning hearing, but just after the noon recess was called and as he was leaving the courtroom he kicked and banged the door and yelled ‘You can die, Pak Lah! Die, Pak Lah! I am innocent. I am innocent’. He was later seen crying before his lawyer while his mother attempted to comfort him.”
‘The Sun told to withdraw copies’
The embassy official also noted that local newspapers and the government news service Bernama had reported the outburt, but did not print his statements.
“The short-lived exception was the English language newspaper The Sun, which included the quotations from Razak in its early morning Feb 21 edition. Sources at the newspaper confirmed to us in confidence that the Ministry of Internal Security (Home Ministry) compelled The Sun to withdraw and recall thousands of copies of their first-run paper in which the original quote was included. Prime Minister Abdullah serves concurrently as Minister of Internal Security.”
Clark said that speculation was rife in Malaysia’s online community on what had sparked off the outburst, including conspiracy theories alleging that the Prime Minister’s Office had urged Razak to implicate Najib, and in return, the accused would be spared the guilty verdict and mandatory death sentence.
“Regardless, the Internal Security Ministry would want to limit any possibly inflammatory reference to the prime minister at the trial, and particularly at this juncture due to the proximity of Malaysia’s general election to be held on March 8.
“Any connection between the prime minister and the murder trial would be scandalous. The GOM (Government of Malaysia) reportedly has worked hard to ‘drive (the case) from public view’… and is not about to allow the case to influence the coming election,” read the cable.
Based on the cables provided by WikiLeaks, the Asian Sentinel reported that the US embassy here followed the trial closely and frequently discussed whether Najib was involved in the killing.
The diplomats, like much of the public, also speculated that the trial was being deliberately delayed and feared what one cable called “prosecutorial misconduct” that was being politically manipulated.
The embassy officials had based their concerns on sources within the prosecution, government and the political opposition.
‘Razak’s wife in contact with Anwar’
The cables, stated the report, were replete with accounts of a long series of meetings with Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who repeatedly told the Americans that Najib was connected to corrupt practices in the acquisition of submarines as well as the purchase of Sukhoi Su-MCM-30 Flanker fighter jets from Russia.
Anwar, it added, also called attention to Najib’s connection to the Altantuya case.
In a Jan 24, 2007 cable marked “secret”, it was written that “perceived irregularities on the part of prosecutors and the court, and the alleged destruction of some evidence, suggested to many that the case was subject to strong political pressure intended to protect Najib”.
On Feb 1, 2008, Clark wrote that a deputy prosecutor had informed him “there was almost no chance of winning guilty verdicts in the ongoing trial of defendants Razak, a close adviser to Najib, and two police officers. She described the trial as interminably long.”
“Clark called the trial a ‘a prosecutorial embarrassment’ from its inception, leading many to speculate that the ineptitude was by design. On the eve of the trial, Malaysia’s Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail dropped his lead prosecutors and replaced them with less experienced attorneys. Similarly, a lead counsel for one of the defendants abruptly resigned before the trial ‘because of (political) attempts to interfere with a defence he had proposed, in particular to protect an unnamed third party.’”
The protracted nature of the case, Clark said, led “at least one regional newspaper to speculate that ‘the case is being deliberately delayed to drive it from public view. Malaysia’s daily newspapers rarely mention the case’s latest developments, and it is unprecedented in Malaysian judicial history that a murder trial could drag on for seven months and still not give the defence an opportunity to present its case. Such an environment has led many to conclude that the case was too politically sensitive to yield a verdict before the anticipated general election.”
Meanwhile, a January 2007 cable touched on Razak’s affidavit confirming that he sought the help of Musa Safri, later identified as Najib’s aide-de-camp, in ridding him of the jilted woman, and in other cables pointed out that Musa had never been called for questioning.
In another cable, dated May 16, 2007, Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, a deputy home minister in
Abdullah’s cabinet, told US Embassy officials that he was “certain that government prosecutors would limit their trial activities to the murder itself and the three defendants; prosecutors would not follow up on allegations of related corruption or other suspects”.
In a cable marked “secret” on Jan 27, 2007, embassy officials wrote: “In December we heard from one of (Anwar’s) lawyers that Razak’s wife was in contact with Anwar and (Anwar’s wife Dr )Wan Azizah (Wan Ismail), suggesting one possible source for Anwar’s information.”
In April 2009, two police officers from the special operations force, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 30, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 35, were found guilty of murdering Altantuya.
The murder was tied closely to the US$1 billion acquisition of French submarines by the Malaysian defence ministry during Najib’s tenure as defence minister. Altantuya reportedly acted as a translator on the transaction, which netted Razak’s company a €114 million “commission” on the purchase.
According to reports, Altantuya had been offered US$500,000 for her part in translating and after she was jilted, she vainly demanded payment. In a letter she had written, made public after her death, Altantuya said she regretted attempting to “blackmail” Razak.
French lawyers are investigating whether some of the €114 million was kicked back to French or Malaysian politicians.

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