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Malaysian MPs call for probe into Villawood murderer Sirul Azhar Umar’s videos

Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, 28, who was murdered in Malaysia in 2006. Photo: Asia Sentinel Piah Samad and Noriatin Umar, the mother and sister of convicted killer Sirul Azhar Umar, are seen in March 2015 outside the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre where he is being held. Photo: James Brickwood

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Bangkok: Opposition politicians in Malaysia have called for an investigation into who is behind a former police commando making videos in Sydney’s Villawood immigration detention centre defending embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Sirul Azhar Umar, a former bodyguard to Mr Najib, has been allowed to make four videos in Villawood, including one to be released this week in which he says he will reveal the names of five people who tried to convince him to link Mr Najib to the murder in Kuala Lumpur of glamorous Mongolian socialite Altantuya Shaariibuu.

But opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) MP Lim Lip Eng has asked Malaysian police to investigate the making of the videos and called on Sirul to reveal who ordered him to shoot 28-year-old Ms Shaariibuu twice in the head and blow up her body with explosives –  as she reportedly begged for the life of her unborn child – in 2006.

Ramkarpal Singh, another DAP MP, said that until Sirul reveals who ordered him to commit the murder “let us not be unnecessarily swayed by the antics of this convicted murderer whose credibility is seriously compromised”.

Sirul has used the videos to dramatically recant earlier “confessions” that he was a scapegoat who was ordered to commit the murder along with another of Mr Najib’s bodyguards. Both men have been sentenced to hang in Malaysia.

Americk Sidhu, a lawyer who represented a private investigator involved in the case who has died, told the Malaysiakini website he found it “incredibly incongruous for a convicted cold-blooded murderer who has never denied shooting a poor defenceless young lady … to sit piously before a camera in a religious white skullcap and offer to the world at large unsolicited narratives.”

A spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Immigration told Fairfax Media last year that Sirul would not be able to give a tell-all interview in Villawood, as he was then promising to do.

But another spokesperson said this week that “all detainees in immigration have access to the internet and phone facilities to communicate with families and friends”.

The freedom given to a detainee convicted over one of the most shocking crimes in Malaysia’s recent history contrasts with legislation passed last year making it a criminal offence punishable by up to two years’ jail for those working in detention centres to reveal information to anyone about anything they came across while doing their jobs.

In the videos, Sirul denied that Mr Najib had anything to do with the murder.

He also denied that 28-year-old Ms Shaariibuu was pregnant with the child of a “certain person”, an apparent reference to Mr Najib.

Ms Shaariibuu worked as a translator in a  $US2 billion deal for Malaysia to buy two French/Spanish-built submarines when Mr Najib was defence minister.

Allegations she was murdered to keep her quiet about purported kickbacks to high-level Malaysian officials have been the subject of intense speculation in Malaysia during Mr Najib’s seven years in office.

French authorities have moved to prosecute a French businessman allegedly involved in paying corrupt payments in the deal.

Mr Najib denies any wrongdoing or ever meeting Ms Shaariibuu.

Sirul’s curious about-turn came after he was visited by figures linked to both Mr Naib’s long-ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the country’s opposition.

At least one Malaysian opposition figure met Sirul in Villawood last year with his ageing mother and urged him to reveal who ordered him to commit the murder.

Sirul fled to Australia before a Malaysian court sentenced him to hang in 2014. Australia has said it will not approve any request to extradite him unless authorities in Kuala Lumpur guarantee he would not face execution.

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