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Malaysian policeman accused of murder testifies

world Updated: Jan 15, 2009 15:15 IST

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Two police officers accused of killing a young Mongolian woman began their legal defense on Thursday in a trial that has captured national attention because of opposition efforts to link the case to Malaysia's prime minister-in-waiting, who has denied any involvement.

Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian translator who was having an affair with a close friend of Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, was shot on October 19, 2006. Her body was then blown up in a forest outside Kuala Lumpur, and only fragments were found, prosecutors have said.

Prosecutors had alleged that Abdul Razak Baginda, Najib's friend, ordered Shaariibuu killed after she started pestering him for money. He has confessed to the affair, but he was acquitted last October of abetting the slaying.

Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, who is charged with the woman's murder, testified in court on Thursday that he went to Abdul Razak's home with two police colleagues the night the woman was killed because Abdul Razak complained that she was causing a disturbance there.

That was the last time Shaariibuu was seen in public. Azilah told the High Court on Thursday that Abdul Razak asked him to "advise the girl and send her back to her hotel so she would not cause any trouble in front of his house."

Azilah said Shaariibuu got into a car with the police officers but did not elaborate before a break in testimony. He was scheduled to take the stand again on Friday.

Another police officer, Constable Sirul Azhar Umar, is also facing a murder charge in the case.

Opposition leaders have repeatedly tried to link Najib to Shaariibuu's death. They claim his close association with Abdul Razak makes him suspect.

Najib, who is scheduled to take over as prime minister by April, has insisted he never knew Shaariibuu.