Dr Shaariibuu Setev, the father of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, told the Shah Alam High Court he had seen the photograph that was produced in court of his murdered daughter posing with two men.
The part-time professor at the Mongolian National University was testifying at the hearing of his RM100 million suit filed against the Malaysian government, two former policemen Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, and Abdul Razak Baginda.
Initially, Razak Baginda’s lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillion had asked Shaariibuu whether he was certain that the photograph was similar to a fabricated picture that circulated on social media at the time.
Shaariibuu insisted that his daughter showed him the photograph in 2006 before she left for Malaysia.
“The original picture, I have seen myself,” he told the court.
Shaariibuu was unable to remember specific details from the photograph, however, noting that he had only seen it once.
When asked whether he knew that Altantuya and Razak Baginda were in a relationship, he replied: “That is between them.”
To a question from Manjeet, Shaariibuu said the police did not show him the picture when he was testifying to them.
He explained that he only saw the picture once when it was shown by Altantuya but he could not remember fully.
Shaariibuu also told the High Court that the police did not inform him on who allegedly altered the photo of the trio.
He did not agree when Senior Federal Counsel Norina Bahadun suggested that the picture was never shown to him by Altantuya and that the picture actually never existed.
He said Altantuya had shown him the picture when she came to his office at the Mongolian National University.
He added, she took out the 8 x 12 centimetre sized picture from her handbag and told the court he did not find the original photo after this.
Shaariibuu became slightly agitated when he was repeatedly questioned by Norina about the photograph, which was said to have been altered.
He questioned the lawyer’s action when he kept on asking about the picture, saying that he had seen the picture only once.
At this point, Shaariibuu appeared to grow frustrated with the line of questioning.
“You all are asking me the same question. Why not you call the people in the picture and ask them,” he said when asked by Norina, for the Malaysian government.
He then refused to answer any more questions regarding the photograph, until persuaded by judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.
When asked by his counsel Ramkarpal Singh on Altantuya’s purpose to come to Malaysia, Shaariibuu said his daughter only showed him the picture.
Ramkarpal then asked him if it was true that there was no original photograph, as the defendant had claimed.
“When I asked her the reason why she (Altantuya) wanted to go to Malaysia, she showed me the photograph,” Shaariibuu said.
“Is it relevant to me whether it’s original or not? If I knew the importance of the photograph, I would have kept it back then.”
In January, Altantuya’s cousin Burmaa Oyunchimeg testified that the viral fabricated image of the deceased with Razak Baginda and Najib was an obvious fake, calling it “the worst photoshop job” she had ever seen.
However, Burmaa said that she saw the real photo of Altantuya sitting together with two men, which was taken in Paris in 2005.
Shaariibuu himself had previously testified that he had seen the original photo, saying that it was shown to him by his daughter before she was to meet a “big man” in Malaysia.
Earlier, before the proceedings began, Shaariibuu informed the High Court that it was Altantuya’s birthday and requested everyone to observe a moment of silence.
“If Altantuya was still alive, she would have celebrated her 40th birthday today,” Shaariibuu said yesterday (May 6).
He said the media in Mongolia also published news on Altantuya’s birthday, while his wife and other children held religious ceremonies in memory of his eldest daughter.
Shaariibuu said that he is hopeful justice will be served for his late daughter.
“Last year, when I met Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, I was promised that the justice would be served.
“The whole world is waiting for that,” he said.
Shaariibuu and his wife Altantsetseg Sanjaa and their two grandsons, Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga, filed the RM100 million suit on June 4, 2007.
In the statement of claim, the family alleged that Altantuya’s death had caused them mental shock and psychological trauma, entitling them to be compensated with exemplary and aggravated damages.
The hearing continues next Monday (May 13).