No criminal claims were made between former prime minister Najib Razak and the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu in his memoir My Story: Justice in the Wilderness, Tommy Thomas said in his statement of defence today.
The former attorney-general and his publisher Gerak Budaya were slapped with a defamation suit filed by Najib on October 27, claiming defamatory statements were made in Thomas’ book which was published on January 31, 2021.
Thomas, in his defence statement, however, said that he was merely narrating his role in obtaining new evidence linked to the murder in 2006.
“The impugned statements, having regard to their true meaning and purport, do not criminally link the plaintiff (Najib) to the murder of Altantuya as a fact.
“The impugned statements narrate the role of the first defendant (Thomas) as public prosecutor in receiving new evidence surrounding the murder,” he said.
In his suit, Najib said Thomas had suggested that he was directly linked to Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar who were found guilty of the murder of Shaariibuu.
Thomas in his defence also said that by virtue of Najib being a former prime minister, he is barred under the law from bringing a legal action.
“By virtue of the plaintiff’s previous high public office, he is precluded or barred in law from suing for defamation.
“Further, the impugned statements relate to acts of the plaintiff in his then official capacity as defence minister and/or deputy prime minister of Malaysia and involved persons working closely with him.”
The lawsuit is also an infringement of his freedom of speech and expression provided for in article 10(1)(a) of the Federal Constitution, Thomas added.
The lawyer said that the statements in the books were also protected by qualified privilege as it was a matter of public interest.
He said the statements in the book also did not tarnish Najib’s image as the media and members of the public have commented, implied or speculated that he was implicated in the model’s death.
Najib, Thomas said, is also facing multiple counts of corruption charges.
With the lawsuit, Najib is seeking unspecified damages at an interest rate of 5% per annum from the filing of the suit and an apology.
He is also seeking the removal of allegedly libellous words and passages from the book, as well as a permanent injunction against either Thomas or publisher Gerak Budaya from further publishing similar statements.
Case management for the suit will be heard virtually tomorrow at the Kuala Lumpur High Court. – TMI