Malaysia court overturns Mongolia model murder convictions

  • Published
Former policemen Azilah Hadri, center covered with blue cloth, and Sirul Azhar Umar, back center covered with black cloth, are escorted by police as they leave a court in Shah Alam, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 9 April 2009Image source, AP
Image caption,
The two policemen (both under blankets) were sentenced to death in 2009

A Malaysian court has overturned the convictions of two police officers for the murder of a Mongolian woman linked to a senior political aide.

The woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a model, was shot dead and her body blown up with explosives in 2006.

The two policemen, who were members of a high-security detail for leading Malaysians, were subsequently sentenced to death in 2009.

The Attorney General's office said it would appeal against the ruling.

Correspondents say the acquittals are likely to revive allegations of a political conspiracy.

A former associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak was charged in connection with the murder but later acquitted. The associate, defence analyst Abdul Razak, had admitted to an affair with the victim.

Malaysia's opposition had repeatedly sought to link Mr Najib to the case but in 2007 he denied any connection, saying he had never met Ms Shaariibuu.

The two policemen, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, had been acquitted and discharged, their lawyer said.

"They are free men now," defence lawyer Hazman Ahmad told AFP news agency.

Ordering the two men to be released, the Court of Appeals ruled that gaps in the evidence had been overlooked in their trial.

These included whether the officers had access to explosives, whether they intended to kill her and whether they were even present at the murder site, Associated Press reports.