Businessman to sue Al-Jazeera for defamation over Altantuya murder documentary

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Local businessman Abdul Salam Ahmad, who was named in Al-Jazeera’s recent documentary on the 2006 murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, will sue the international broadcaster for defamation some time this week, his lawyer confirmed.

The lawyer, Akbardin Abdul Kader, confirmed this to Malay Mail Online tonight, after copies of a police report filed against Al-Jazeera were distributed to the media.

“After this, the next course of action is to sue Al-Jazeera. The notice of demand will be sent this week and then I will file a defamation suit in court as instructed by my client,” he said when contacted.

In the documentary, hosted by freelance reporter Mary Ann Jolley and aired in September, Abdul Salam was named as a mediator in a negotiation with Sirul Azhar Umar, the former police commando who was sentenced to death for Altantuya’s murder and who is currently seeking asylum in Australia to escape the death row here.

In an interview with the Malay Mail Online after the documentary was aired, Jolley, who was investigating the murder, said Sirul had sent several text messages to Abdul Salam on January this year asking for millions of dollars to “remain in Australia and not bring down the PM”.

However, in Abdul Salam’s police report today, the businessman claimed that the SMS citing his name was defamatory, and that he had never played any role for any party for Sirul Azhar.

“The first defamatory statement that was hurled at me is it appears from Sirul’s SMS, Salam is acting as a middleman to someone with a lot of stake.

“The second defamatory statement involves an SMS purportedly from Sirul Azhar to me translated from Malay to the English language, which reads as follows:

“Greetings boss, I am in difficulties here. I want 2 million Australian dollars before you come to meet me. I need to guarantee the future of my child here. After that I want RM15 million and I will not return to Malaysia. Not ever. I won’t bring down the PM.”

The purported original SMS sent in Malay reads, “Assalam boss, sya ssah kat sini, sya nak 2juta aus dulu sblm boss datang jumpa sya, sya nak utk jaminan msadepan anak kat sini, pastu sya nak 15 j…aus..seumur hidup sya x akan balik ke msia lagi boss. sya x akan jatuhkan pm.”

“I state that I never played any role for any party to Sirul Azhar and that the first defamatory statement and the second defamatory statement are mere inventions and/or hurled with malice,” Abdul Salam said in his report.

A copy of the report was made available to the Malay Mail Online.

In the report, Abdul Salam also claimed that he had contacted Jolley to seek an explanation but she never responded.

He added that the documentary had also defamed him by reportedly claiming that he had a “history of bribery”.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said in September that the police are investigating Al-Jazeera under Section 505B of the Penal Code that prohibits the publishing of statements, rumours or reports that could cause public fear or alarm.

He accused the Doha-based news organisation of basing their “Murder in Malaysia” documentary on hearsay and of trying to “plant new evidence”.

Sirul and former police commando Azilah Hadri were both sentenced to death in January this year for the 2006 murder of Altantuya when the Federal Court reversed their previous acquittal, but Sirul fled to Australia after he was acquitted in 2013.

Abdul Razak Baginda, who was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s then-aide when the latter was deputy prime minister, was acquitted of abetment in Altantuya’s murder without his defence being called.- The Malay Mail Online.