By Koh Jun Lin
Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda had apparently expressed regret over the murder of Mongolian national, Altantuya Shaariibuu, just prior to his arrest, claimed former private investigator P Balasubramaniam.
“I should have paid the US$500,000 (RM1,550,750) as commission to Altantuya,” Balasubramaniam recounted Razak as allegedly saying on the day of his arrest.
Balasubramaniam was giving a blow-by-blow account of the circumstances surrounding Altantuya’s death during his first public appearance last night after fleeing the country nearly five years ago.
He said he was leaving the office of a lawyer identified as Puravelan, with Razak, in a lift at that time.
Newspapers were already speculating then about Razak (left) being arrested that day and the lawyer was busy preparing his clients for such an eventuality.
Upon hearing this, the private investigator supposedly told Razak, “Boss, look here. What was my advice to you? Police report. You should have done the police report.”
Went against advice
Balasubramaniam explained that Razak had engaged him to keep Altantuya at bay, but advised him to lodge a police report instead.
However, Razak purportedly declined to do so because “a VVIP was involved,” who was later revealed to be then defence minister and now Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Altantuya was said to be demanding USD500,000 (RM1,550,750) and three air tickets to Mongolia from Razak at the time, supposedly the fee for her role in mediating the Scorpene submarine deal.
Balasubramaniam said Razak did end up being arrested on Nov 7, the day the conversation took place, just 30 minutes upon reaching his office at Wisma Lee Rubber, Kuala Lumpur after the meeting.
He was eventually charged and acquitted of allegedly abetting in Altantuya’s murder, while two police Special Actions Unit (UTK) officers were sentenced to death for allegedly shooting Altantuya and blasting her remains with military-grade explosives.
Some 1,000 persons crammed Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall’s main hall last night to hear first-hand what Balasubramaniam had to say on the Mongolian’s killing.
New revelations were few and far in between while Balasubramaniam often stumbled to find the right words and had to rely on a Powerpoint slide he had prepared since his return to recall some of the events.
Exposures entrance crowd
Nevertheless, the audience remained glued to their seats for nearly two hours until around 11.30pm as Balasubramaniam recounted the events.
This included what had transpired between him and Razak from their introduction until the arrest, the circumstances surrounding this first statutory declaration implicating Najib in the murder and a second statutory declaration made under duress to retract it, and further attempts to bribe him to slander opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
The audience appeared to be engaged by Balasubramaniam’s version of the events, clapping and cheering at key points of his talk or whenever a prominent personality’s name, like Najib, cropped up.
They also booed at a video of Najib denying any involvement in the incident that was screened play as part of the prelude to the talk.
Other speakers included Suaram secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel and the cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar.
During the talk, Balasubramaniam mentioned that he was alone with the commissioner of oaths during the second statutory declaration.
When the talk’s moderator Badrul Hisham Shaharin asked him about a lawyer supposedly involved in preparing the document, Balasubramaniam said he only knew of this through ‘hearsay’ via businessperson Deepak Jaikishan, who had persuaded him to make the declaration.
“If you ask me, I don’t know. I only heard the hearsay info because Deepak had already mentioned that it was Cecil Abraham (left),” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
He said his lawyer Americk Sidhu and human rights activist Haris Ibrahim had pressured the Bar Council to look into the allegation and its president Lim Chee Wee had asked him to give a statement.
“If everything goes right, Cecil Abraham’s cover will be blown,” he said. – Mkini