KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak reiterated on Wednesday (Jan 23) that he has never met slain model Altantuya Shaariibuu, after a witness testified that she saw a photograph that they had taken together.
“That is slander. Lies. I never met her. I swore in a mosque about this,” Najib told reporters in Cameron Highlands, where he is helping Barisan Nasional to campaign in a by-election.
Earlier in the day, 37-year-old Burmaa Oyunchimeg - who is the cousin of Altantuya and the first witness to testify in a civil lawsuit on the murder – said the slain woman was in a relationship with political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.
The witness said she first met Razak, who was married, when Altantuya introduced him to her at a hotel in Hong Kong towards the end of 2004.
"At that time, I was living in Hong Kong and she (Altantuya) had come from Mongolia for a holiday to visit me."
"When she introduced me to him (Razak), she told me that he was a friend, but later told me that they were in a relationship," said the witness.
The witness said the second time she met Razak was in Shanghai in January 2005, when both she and Altantuya flew in from Hong Kong and they met Razak at the airport.
The witness said the third meeting was in March 2005 in Singapore, adding that Altantuya and Razak had already arrived there before her.
NAJIB AND ALTANTUYA SEEN TOGETHER IN PHOTOGRAPH
Ms Burmaa said after she and Altantuya flew back to Mongolia from Singapore in March 2005, Altantuya showed her a photo of herself, Razak and a then deputy prime minister.
“I remember I saw a picture of three people, two men and Altantuya. I asked her who they were, and she said one was the deputy prime minister and the other was Razak who worked with him and do business together.”
"I asked her if they were brothers because of the same name. She said no, but they were best friends, business partners and worked together,” she said.
Sometime in 2006, the affair between Altantuya and Razak was said to have soured.
Altantuya came to Malaysia together with her sister and cousin to track down Razak, who had refused to see her.
On the night of Oct 19, 2006 at around 8pm, Altantuya appeared outside Razak’s home. On seeing her, two policemen from the Special Action Unit seized her and forced her into a car.
They drove her to a forested area in Shah Alam, Selangor.
They threw her onto the ground and fired two shots into her head.
They then strapped military grade explosives onto her body and detonated them, blowing her body to bits.
Razak was charged with abetting her murder but he was freed by the High Court in 2008.
The policemen, Sirul Azhar Umar and Azilah Hadri, who were once Najib's bodyguards, were found guilty and sentenced to death in 2015.
Azilah is currently on death row at Kajang prison while Sirul fled to Australia before the sentencing and is being held in a detention centre.
In 2007, Altantuya’s family filed a RM100 million (US$24.17 million) suit against Azilah, Sirul, Razak and the Malaysian government.
Najib has repeatedly denied knowing Altantuya or that he had any part in her death.
READ: Altantuya's murder - Najib Razak says there are attempts to implicate him despite the case being concluded
The Pakatan Harapan government announced last June that they would reopen investigations into the murder.
The trial continues on Thursday with Altantuya’s father providing his testimony.