Chronology of Altantuya's murder: From arrests to Sirul's release

14 Nov 2023 06:00pm
Sirul Azhar - FILE PIX
Sirul Azhar - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - Recently, in a surprising development, former Special Action Unit (UTK) officer Sirul Azhar Umar who was sentenced to death for the notorious 2006 murder of Mongolian translator and model Altantuyaa Shaariibuu has been released from detention in Sydney, Australia.

His escape to Australia was an attempt to evade the death penalty in Malaysia.

Following his release on Nov 11, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Husain said the police would discuss with the Attorney-General and the courts on the possibility of seeking repatriation for Sirul.

While his release stirred reactions, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who was supposedly linked to the case remained unfazed by Sirul's release.

On Sunday, it was reported that Najib’s lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the former who is currently serving a 12-year prison sentence over graft convictions, has “no cause for concern” regarding Sirul’s release.

“(Najib) will not be having any sleepless nights over Sirul’s release,” Shafee was reported saying.

Shafee also said Najib's alleged involvement in Altantuya's case was never mentioned during the trial or appeal of the murder case and Sirul had stated in a sworn video that Najib was not implicated.

The tragic death of the Mongolian woman, the legal proceedings against Sirul and another UTK officer Azilah Hadri, the civil suit against key figures have kept the case in the public eye.

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Following is the chronology of Altantuya’s murder case:


Oct 26: Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri from the Bukit Aman Special Action Unit was arrested in connection with Altantuya’s disappearance.

Nov 6: Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar from the same unit was arrested.

Nov 7: Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda was picked up by the police to assist in investigations into the case.

Nov 15: Azilah and Sirul were jointly charged at the Shah Alam magistrate’s court with the murder of Altantuya. They were accused of murdering her at a location between Lot 12843 and Lot 16735 in Mukim Bukit Raja, Selangor, between 10am on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am the following day.

Nov 16: Razak was charged at the Kuala Lumpur magistrate’s court with abetting Azilah and Sirul in the murder. He allegedly committed the offence between 9.54am and 11.05am on Oct 18, at the 10th floor of Bangunan Getah Asli in Jalan Ampang.


June 4: Altantuya’s family filed a lawsuit at the Shah Alam High Court against Sirul, Azilah, Razak and the government claiming that Altantuya’s death had caused them mental and psychological trauma. The suit was filed by Altantuya's parents Dr Shaariibuu Setev and Altantsetseg Sanjaa as well as their two grandsons (Altantuya’s sons) Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga.

June 19: The trial of Razak and the two policemen for the murder of Altantuya began.


Oct 31: The High Court acquitted Razak without his defence being called after ruling that the prosecution has failed to establish a prima facie case against him. The court ruled the same day that the prosecution has proved a prima facie case against Azilah and Sirul and ordered them to enter their defence.

Nov 14: Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah confirmed that the prosecution was not appealing against Razak’s acquittal.


Jan 15: Azilah and Sirul’s defence trial began. Azilah opted to give sworn evidence.

Feb 4: Sirul testifies from the dock.

April 9: Azilah and Sirul Azhar were found guilty by the High Court and sentenced to death.

April 10: Azilah filed a notice of appeal against his conviction and death sentence.

April 13: Sirul filed a notice of appeal against his conviction and death sentence.


June 24: The Court of Appeal heard the duo’s appeal.

Aug 23: The court allowed the appeals by Azilah and Sirul and acquitted them of the charge. The prosecution filed a notice of appeal against the decision the same day.


June 23: The Federal Court heard the prosecution’s appeal. The case was heard for three days.

June 25: A five-member Federal Court panel chaired by then Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria reserved its decision in the prosecution’s appeal.


Jan 13: The Federal Court sets aside Azilah and Sirul acquittal and sentenced them to death by hanging for the murder of Altantuya. Arifin found that the Court of Appeal had erred in its decision.

Only Azilah was present during the proceeding while Sirul had left Malaysia while the case was still under appeal and did not return when the Federal Court pronounced the sentence.

Sirul was subsequently arrested on an Interpol notice and detained at Sydney’s Villawood immigration detention centre. The Australian government would not send him back to Malaysia consistent with the country's policy of not repatriating individuals facing the death penalty in their home country.


Dec 5: Azilah, who is on the death row, filed a review application against the Federal Court’s decision with his 32-page statutory declaration, which claims that the order to kill Altantuya had come from Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was the deputy prime minister (at that time of the incident).


Dec 8: The Federal Court dismissed Azilah’s application seeking a retrial and review of his 2015 conviction.


Dec 16: Altantuya’s family was awarded RM5 million in damages by the Shah Alam High Court.


Nov 11: Sirul was released from the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, Australia after spending nine years in the country’s immigration custody since 2015. It was reported by The Sydney Morning Herald that his release was following a High Court decision, last week that ruled that non-citizens who were unable to be deported could no longer be detained indefinitely by immigration authorities.

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