Azilah Hadri, a former Special Action Unit (UTK) personnel who is currently on death row for murdering Altantuya Shaariibuu, confessed for the first time to killing the Mongolian national
According to Malaysiakini, Azilah made a statutory declaration (SD) - a sworn oath - dated 17 October 2019 that it was then-deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who ordered him to kill Altantuya.
The news portal noted that it was the first time Azilah confessed that it was him and Sirul Azhar Umar, also a former UTK personnel, who killed the victim.
According to his SD, Najib described Altantuya as a "dangerous foreign spy" and ordered him to "arrest and destroy" her
Azilah said Najib, who was also the Defence Minister at the time of the murder - October 2006 - instructed him to dispose Altantuya's body with explosives after killing her.
"I asked the DPM (deputy prime minister) what he meant by arrest and destroy the foreign spy, he responded: 'Shoot to kill', and indicating it with a 'slit the throat' gesture," the SD read, which has been filed to the Federal Court in an attempt to nullify his death sentence and the conviction.
However, he admitted that the instruction was given verbally by then-Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Musa Safri, who was also Najib's former aide-de-camp
Azilah claimed that he was "instructed, informed, and believed" that the order to murder Altantuya came directly from Najib through Musa.
He was told that the mission involved national security and that he executed the order out of good faith.
When Azilah wanted to file his mission into the police record, he claimed that Najib stopped him from doing so
"I told the DPM that a police report had to be made on this matter and I would ask for help from my friend at the Brickfields police headquarters, but this was turned down by the DPM," The Star quoted the SD.
"The DPM said that this (matter) could not be publicly known as it (involved) a threat to national security. The DPM then instructed me to carry out a covert operation to arrest and destroy the spy secretly and destroy her body using explosives."
The murder took place at Mukim Bukit Raja in Klang, Selangor between the night of 19 October 2006 and past midnight of 20 October 2006.
Azilah reasoned the rationale behind his confession was also to warn fellow UTK against falling victim to such a betrayal
"My purpose for disclosing the evidence and material facts (of this case) is not only because I feel I have been betrayed by interested parties but also to express the truth on what happened in the murder of Altantuya,” he said, reported Malaysiakini.
"I also hope that my colleagues in the UTK and the police force will be careful in executing orders so that the issue of betrayal and being made a scapegoat will not recur."
He averred that there was nothing personal in the murder of Altantuya, as it was done under the pretext of 'national security'.
He also seeks forgiveness from Altantuya's family, claiming that he "had no choice at the time, other than to follow orders".
In an immediate response, Najib rubbished Azilah's confession, describing it as a 'complete fabrication' coming from a person trying to escape the gallows
Najib likened the ploy to bring up the issue 13 years after Altantuya's death to Pakatan Harapan's effort to divert the public attention from the government's shortcomings.
"Why did this information not come out earlier, and only now, more than a decade after her death and only after 19 months Harapan has been in power?" Najib told Malaysiakini.
"I believe this is a deal struck between the Harapan government and Azilah, with the latter's death sentence being commuted or delayed in return. This is an attempt to distract attention and to hit out at me," he added.
Najib, who currently faces 42 charges in relation to corruption, abuse of power, and money laundering, reiterated his innocence in Altantuya's murder case, maintaining that he had never met the Mongolian national.
The court has set Tuesday, 17 December, for case management.
In October 2018, Najib lodged a police report against himself to instigate an investigation over Altantuya's murder case: