By Wong Choon Mei
As two elite cops await the gallows, political analyst Razak Baginda – who once shared the same dock with them for abetting the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu – received his doctorate in International Relations from the prestigious Oxford University.
A close associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak, Razak Baginda was controversially acquitted and discharged last year. The 49-year old then quickly left for the United Kingdom to pursue his studies.
According to him, he first submitted his dissertation in September 2006, but the university put it on hold because of his arrest two months later over the Altantuya case.
“When I was acquitted and released from prison on Oct 31 last year, I wrote back to the university,” said Razak.
“They revived the whole process and early this year they told me that I had passed and been awarded the Doctorate of Philosophy. At Oxford, the Doctorate is called DPhil and is equivalent to PhD in other universities.”
Writing a book, but will he tell all?
Razak Baginda also said he was writing a book on his life with special focus on his 22 months detention at the Sungai Buloh Prison during the Altantuya trial.
The 28-year old Mongolian was alleged to have been Najib’s mistress. She was also Razak Baginda’s lover and her killing is believed to have been linked to her role as a go-between in Malaysia’s acquisition of three high-cost submarines.
Najib, who was then defence minister, had sanctioned the purchase, while Razak Baginda was alleged to have been his intermediary for the 114 million euros (about RM540 million) commission paid by French shipbuilder Armaris for the submarines order.
Altantuya, who speaks four languages including Russian, is believed to have been killed while trying to collect her share of the commission.
She was shot in the head twice at a jungle clearing in Malaysia and her body strapped with C4 military-grade explosives and then blown up to avoid identification.
Two policemen who were part of Najib’s security detail – Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar – have been found guilty and sentenced to hang. Both have appealed against the conviction and sentence.
Despite the verdict and to an extent because of Razak Baginda’s controversial acquittal, the sensational murder-and-commission case remains a subject of intense interest and speculation both in Malaysia and overseas.
Many questions were buried by prosecution during the trial, including the most important of all: But who ordered the killing?