Sat, Jun 16, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Murdered model's father suspicious about delayed trial


The father of a brutally murdered Mongolian woman on Thursday hit out at the Malaysian government after a delay in his daughter's murder trial, saying he feared political interference.

In one of the most charged cases in recent years, a high court on June 4 began a trial over the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was killed and then blown up with explosives in October last year.

But the trial was swiftly postponed to Monday after a new government prosecutor was introduced on the day, a move criticized as irregular by lawyers observing the case.

"It is not any toy or game for whomever wants to join or to make his career better," Shaariibuu Setev told reporters, speaking through a translator.

"After eight months of preparation, it seems like there is a lack of preparedness," he said.

Altantuya's married lover, Abdul Razak Baginda, a political analyst and close associate of Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, is charged with abetting the crime, while two police officers are charged with the murder.

Najib, who is also Malaysia's defense minister, has vehemently denied any involvement.

Shaariibuu said the Malaysian government had ignored letters from the Mongolian government pleading for transparency in the trial, and also alleged he was being censored by Malaysia's media.

"If the trial is again postponed, it will be proved it is really a political issue," he said.

The distraught father also said he believed Altantuya had been raped because of the violent nature of her death, which he blamed on Abdul Razak, whom he called a "devil."

Malaysian civil rights activists yesterday called for a fair and independent trial.

In a joint statement, a coalition of 22 civil groups questioned events leading up to the expected re-start of the trial on Monday.

"We are calling for a fair and independent trial," Yap Swee Seng, coordinator with the rights group Voice of the Malaysian People (Suaram) told reporters, adding that rights groups questioned a last minute change of prosecutors as it raises fears of "there might be political interference in the case."

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