The former AG says this was based on an interview with Sirul at a detention centre in Australia.
Sirul Azhar Umar provided evidence which corroborated the claims of his co-accused Azilah Hadri, who implicated former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.
According to former attorney-general Tommy Thomas, this was based on an interview by a senior deputy public prosecutor whom he instructed to meet Sirul at the Villawood immigration detention centre in Australia.
“I asked a senior DPP to fly to Sydney to seek permission from the authorities there to interview Sirul on the credibility of Azilah’s confession.
“My senior DPP spent many days interviewing Sirul in Villawood. Sirul’s evidence corroborated Azilah’s.
“Their joint version was credible, particularly taking into consideration that they were incarcerated in different detention centres in two countries with no means of contacting each other.
“I was satisfied they were truthful,” he added in his memoir “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”.
Thomas said he was told that Sirul had previously informed the Australian authorities that he was ordered to kill a foreign spy, which is similar to what Azilah claimed.
Both Sirul and Azilah were former members of the police’s elite Special Action Force. They were convicted of the 2006 murder of the Mongolian national.
However, Sirul fled to Australia after the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s verdict. The Federal Court later reinstated the guilty verdict and death sentence.
Australia does not deport those who are facing the death sentence in their home country.
In his memoir, Thomas alluded to Azilah’s first-time admission – from death row in Kajang prison – that he together with Sirul murdered Altantuya following an explicit “shoot to kill” order.
Azilah, in December 2019, claimed that the order came from Najib and Najib’s close associate, Abdul Razak Baginda.
These details were contained in Azilah’s application for the Federal Court to review his conviction and death sentence, together with Sirul’s.
“Azilah supported his review application with the same statutory declaration (SD) I had read previously.
“It implicated not only Najib as the person who gave Azilah the order to kill, but also his aide de camp Musa Safri, for assisting or abetting Najib,” Thomas said in reference to the SD.
In the SD dated Oct 17, 2019, Azilah claimed that Najib ordered him to “arrest and destroy” Altantuya, whom the then deputy prime minister allegedly described as a “foreign spy” and a “threat to national security”.
Najib has denied the allegation.
Meanwhile, Thomas recounted that Altantuya’s father, Shaariibuu Setev, had lodged a second police report in 2018 to seek a fresh probe into his daughter’s murder following Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the last general election.
The former attorney-general said he had personally arranged a meeting with then inspector-general of police Fuzi Harun and several other senior police officers, but was informed there were no new leads in the case.
Thomas noted that things only started moving more than a year later, based on the contents of Azilah’s SD, with the police recording statements from witnesses mentioned in the 32-page document.
“The objective of the fresh investigations was to build a case.
“I had to be very cautious for obvious reasons. But one thing was certain – I could not ignore the revelations made by Azilah under oath, which formed the basis of an application to the highest court in the land,” he said.
Last Dec 8, a five-person Federal Court bench chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Azahar Mohamed had unanimously denied Azilah’s review application.
Azahar noted that Azilah kept silent about the “so-called new evidence” revealed in his SD throughout police investigations, the trial at the High Court and the subsequent appeals at the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.
Azilah’s application was filed on Dec 5, 2019, on grounds that the applicant be allowed to adduce further evidence not adduced during the murder trial in the High Court in Shah Alam.