A Malaysian police commander sentenced to hang in Kuala Lumpur has broken his silence from Sydney's Villawood detention centre, saying he was ordered to kill a Mongolian socialite at the centre of high-level corruption allegations in Malaysia.
Sirul Azhar Umar said he was acting under orders when he twice shot glamorous 28-year-old translator Altantuya Shaariibuu in the head as she begged for the life of her unborn child and then wrapped her body with military explosives and blew her up.
"I was under orders. The important people with motive are still free," Sirul, a former bodyguard of Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak, told the Malaysiakini news portal by telephone.
"It is not like I do not love the police (force) or the country, but I acted under orders," he said.
Sirul told Malaysiakini he has been negotiating a tell-all interview with Australian television stations where he is considering revealing why he and police colleague Azilah Hadri killed Ms Shaariibuu in a jungle patch on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
"I haven't decided (on whether) to do the interview," he said.
Allegations have simmered for eight years that Ms Shaariibuu was murdered to keep her quiet about purported kick-backs to high-level Malaysian officials over the US$2 billion purchase of two French and Spanish-built Scorpene submarines when Mr Najib was defence minister.
Ms Shaariibuu, described as sophisticated jet-setting party girl, worked as a translator in the later stages of negotiations.
Mr Najib strongly denies ever meeting Ms Shaariibuu or having any link to her and his government denies any wrongdoing in the submarine purchases, which are the subject of an investigation by magistrates in France.
A motive for the murder of Ms Shaariibuu was never revealed during the trial of Sirul and Azilah who were sentenced to hang after Malaysia's highest court on January 13 upheld a previous conviction that had been dismissed by another court on a legal technicality.
Sirul told a judge during his trial he was "the black sheep who has been sacrificed to protect unnamed people."
Azilah is on death row in a Kuala Lumpur prison awaiting execution but Sirul had travelled to Queensland months before the January hearing where he was detained on immigration charges on January 20.
Australia has made clear it will not agree to a Malaysian request to extradite Sirul unless the government in Kuala Lumpur gives an undertaking he will not be executed, leaving him facing prolonged detention in Villawood.
Malaysian authorities have said they will take legal action to try to overturn Australia's decision.
Approval would be required from Australia's immigration department for Sirul, a 43-year-old divorced father of two, to give a television interview in Villawood that could be politically explosive in Malaysia.
He told Malaysiakini he was doing fine in the detention centre and is allowed access to a mobile telephone as well as the internet.
Sirul also claimed he had never met Abdul Razak Baginda, a former friend and adviser to Mr Najib, who was initially charged with abetting the murder but released before any evidence was led against him.
Ms Shaariibuu was a former lover of Mr Baginda and admitted in a letter found after her murder she allegedly wanted US$500,000 to remain silent about her knowledge of the submarine deal.
Mr Baginda is believed to be living in Britain.
Lindsay Murdoch SMH
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