The family of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu was today awarded RM5 million in damages by the High Court here over the woman’s death in 2006.
This was after Judge Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera allowed the suit filed by Altantuya’s parents, Dr Shaariibuu Setev and Altantsetseg Sanjaa as well as their two grandsons Mungunshagai Bayarjargal and Altanshagai Munkhtulga against former policemen Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, as well as Abdul Razak Baginda and the Malaysian government.
“I find the plaintiffs have successfully established their case against the first (Azilah), second (Sirul) and third defendants (Abdul Razak)
“As the fourth defendant (Malaysian government), I find that, by the facts of the law, the fourth defendant, as the employer, is vicariously liable for the unlawful actions of the first and second defendants, which were carried out in the capacities of police officers,” the judge said during an online proceeding.
The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on June 4, 2007, claiming that the model’s death resulted in them suffering mental shock and psychological trauma, and sought compensation as well as exemplary and aggravated damages.
Judge Vazeer Alam, who is now a Court of Appeal judge, said the plaintiffs’ request of RM100 million was excessive and could not be justly defined on principle.
“It is hereby ordered that the defendants jointly pay the plaintiffs the sum of RM5 million in general, aggravated and exemplary damages. The damages should be charged at five per cent interest from the date the lawsuit is filed,” he said.
The judge also ordered the four defendants to pay RM25,000 in costs each.
When reading out his judgment, the judge stated that according to Altantuya’s cousin Namiraa Gerelmaa, the deceased intended to meet Abdul Razak, who was said to be in a relationship with Altantuya at the time, to collect payment for translation work she had done for him in Paris.
“After numerous failed attempts to meet Abdul Razak at his office, the deceased began showing up in front of his residence in Damansara Heights. On the night of October 19, 2006, Altantuya, on her own, went back to the residence after Abdul Razak gave her the greenlight to meet up.
“However, Abdul Razak then called Sirul and Azhar to ‘deal’ with the deceased, who they then took into Azhar’s car to a site in Puncak Alam and shot her, and they also strapped her to explosives and exploded her into pieces,” explained the judge.
The judge added that when the evidence was scrutinised, it was clear that the first and second defendants did not know the deceased.
“The link between them and the deceased was through Abdul Razak. It was Abdul Razak who enlisted the assistance of the first defendant. The first defendant (Azilah) had told the third defendant (Abdul Razak) that he could ‘habiskan perempuan itu dan beliau pernah buat sedemikian beberapa kali’.
“Abdul Razak has been advised to file a police report and deport the deceased. He did not take that action, but instead sought help from a self-professed killer to deal with the deceased. There is no reasonable motive for the first and second defendants to kill the deceased and blow her body into pieces. The only link between them was the third defendant, who wanted the harassment by the deceased to stop,” the judge said.
A total of 26 plaintiff witnesses, including Altantuya’s father, Dr Shaariibuu, and the woman’s eldest son, Bayarkhuu, testified at the trial, which began in 2019. The government called three witnesses in the trial, while Abdul Razak chose not to testify.
Counsel Sangeet Kaur Deo, Tan Chee Kian and Simranjit Kaur Chhran acted for the plaintiffs, while lawyers P Mithran, Avtaran Singh and Eshwinder Kaur Gill represented Abdul Razak, and Senior Federal Counsel Zetty Zurina Kamarudin and Khairuddin Anhar represented the Malaysian government.