Malaysian ex-cop who murdered Mongolian model released from detention

The father of murdered Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu has cried foul over the release of former Malaysian policeman Sirul Azhar Umar from a detention centre by the Australian government.

Mongolian film professor Shaariibuu Setev’s reaction came about a week after the Australian immigration’s decision to release Sirul and 86 other detainees, following a High Court ruling that quashed indefinite detention.

On Nov 11, Sirul, 52, was released from the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney, where he had been held since 2015.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Dr Shaariibuu said he was shocked that his daughter’s killer was now walking free in Australia, adding that he was “disappointed with Australia”.

He was quoted by the newspaper as saying he had not been informed by any Australian government representative that his daughter’s killer was among the detainees freed.

“Where are the human rights for the victim’s family? We are right here, we are still alive and suffering.

“There is a Mongolian embassy in Australia, and an Australian embassy in Mongolia. No one has contacted me,” he said.

Dr Shaariibuu also asked when the Australian government would send an apology to him. “I really wonder why Australia released a murderer. It makes me think that all the murderers of the world can go to Australia, spend time in immigration detention centres and eventually be released and become free men.”

Ms Altantuya, a mother of two, was driven to a jungle in Selangor in 2006 and shot twice in an execution-style murder, before being blown up with explosives.

Sirul was one of two police guards for former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak who were convicted of the murder. But Sirul has maintained that he had abducted Ms Altantuya on orders.

His bid for asylum in Australia was rejected in 2019.

In December 2022, the Shah Alam High Court in Malaysia ordered former policeman Azilah Hadri, 47; Sirul; Najib’s former associate Abdul Razak Baginda, 63; and the government – the first to fourth defendants – to pay RM5 million (S$1.45 million) in damages to Ms Altantuya’s family.

Dr Shaariibuu and his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa, as well as their two grandsons, Mr Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Mr Altanshagai Munkhtulga, filed the suit in June 2007, seeking RM100 million in compensation, as well as for exemplary and aggravated damages.

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