A Mongolian witness caused a stir in court today when she revealed that murdered Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu had been photographed having a meal with a Malaysian government official named 'Najib Razak'.
Burmaa Oyunchimeg (left), also known as Amy, told the Shah Alam High Court that Altantuya had shown her the photo in Hong Kong when she returned from a trip to France.
It is believed that the government official in the photograph is Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who has close ties with political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.
The latter has been charged with abetting the murder of Altantuya, 28.
Najib has previously denied that he had personally met the murdered woman and that he heard of her only from newspaper reports after Altantuya was murdered.
This morning, Burmaa, 26, mentioned the photograph when re-examined by DPP Manoj Kurup.
Manoj was asking whether she had personal knowledge of Altantuya’s disappearance.
Burmaa began her answer conveyed by her translator Enkhjargal Tsetsgee that she knew Altantuya had come to see Razak who happens to be the only person she knows in Malaysia.
“I know why she wanted to see Razak Baginda - I have seen pictures of Altantuya with Razak and a government official,” she said.
After Burmaa said that, prosecutor Manoj abruptly cut her off.
But 20 minutes later, lawyer Karpal Singh, who is holding a watching brief for the deceased’s family, sought permission from the court to pose a question on the photograph.
'They had the same name'
This drew protests from the prosecution and a verbal exchange ensued on the relevance of the question.
"I have no record of this," judge Mohammed Zaki Mohammed Yasin said, referring to Burmaa's comment about the picture.
The prosecution also said they had no record, prompting Karpal to fire back: "Don't hide things in this court!"
"I am not hiding things. Shut up for the moment," replied lead prosecutor Tun Majid Tun Hamzah.
Karpal turned to the judge and said, "He is out here to conceal this."
Judge Zaki then allowed Karpal to question the witness about the picture. The veteran lawyer proceeded to ask Burmaa what was depicted in the photograph.
“She (Altantuya) was having a meal at a round table with Razak (Baginda), a Malaysian government official and other people,” she replied.
Karpal then asked her on the identity of the government official, and she replied: “I remember the name Najib Razak, they had the same name, ‘Razak’. I thought they were brothers. I asked her (Altantuya) if they were brothers.”
This sparked off another exchange as the prosecutor raised new objections to Karpal's questioning.
The judge then asked Karpal to explain its relevance.
"The relevancy is this. We must not hide anything. It was the ADC (aide-de-camp) officer of the deputy prime minister who had directed his personnel to go in front of Razak's house to take the deceased away. That is the purpose."
Tun Majid accused Karpal of turning the proceedings into a "political forum". He said the attorney-general had promised that everything would be presented at the trial.
"Why can't you just have faith in the system?" Tun Majid asked.
A lawyer for one of the accused policemen accused Karpal of "coaching" the witness Burmaa.
The judge eventually dismissed Burmaa and directed the courtroom to stand down for 15 minutes before calling the next witness, lance corporal Rohaniza Roslan, 29 - considered the prosecution's star witness.
Hearing will resume on Monday.