KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Private detective P. Balasubramaniam died today of a heart ailment, weeks after returning home vowing to expose the truth behind Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder in 2006.
When contacted at about 2.50pm today, Balasubramaniam’s lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu confirmed that his client had died.
“He died about 45 minutes ago,” Americk told The Malaysian Insider.
Americk said Balasubramaniam’s wife had called for an ambulance when the former private investigator had a heart attack in his house.
The lawyer said it was too late by the time the ambulance arrived, adding: “He died when he was at home.”
“His body has been taken to the Sungai Buloh hospital,” he said.
Americk confirmed that Balasubramaniam had been warded in the hospital for about a week from March 3, but “went home to rest”.
He said his client was due to go for a checkup this morning, but was not sure if he went.
He said he had spoken to Balasubramaniam over the phone in the past few days and his client had sounded fine.
“It was very unexpected. I’m devastated... I think he’s probably one of the best Malaysians we had,” said Americk, who was not at his client’s house when the heart attack occurred.
In an immediate response to news of Balasubramaniam’s death, controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan said: “I heard about it. I offer my condolences.”
Deepak had recently admitted that he had helped Balasubramaniam repudiate the latter’s earlier statutory declaration (SD) on the 2006 high-profile murder case, including finding two lawyers to draft the new statement.
The businessman had also named a number of individuals in his allegations, including the alleged lawyer who drafted the second SD.
Early this month, Balasubramaniam was reported to have been diagnosed with a heart condition after three of his arteries were found to be clogged.
PKR lawmaker Sivarasa Rasiah this afternoon wrote on microblogging site Twitter that Balasubramaniam was discharged from the hospital this Tuesday and was due to undergo heart bypass surgery.
“He was due to be scheduled for bypass surgery in about three weeks; on medication and treatment pending that.”
“Bala had a follow-up with his doctors this morning in SJMC and looked fine: unfortunately had breathing difficulties at about 1.30 pm,” Sivarasa tweeted.
Early last month, Balasubramaniam had come out of hiding and returned to Malaysia, saying that he wanted to help campaign for the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) ahead of Election 2013.
Balasubramaniam or “PI Bala” had first entered the public’s eye in 2008 for claims he made against top federal government personalities in his first statutory declaration (SD) on Altantuya’s brutal murder.
But when Balasubramaniam retracted the SD the following day and signed a new one in which the names of these personalities were omitted, he found himself in an even deeper tangle and was forced to flee the country.
A year later, in 2009, he reappeared in the limelight when he claimed that the second SD had been signed under duress and prepared without his knowledge.
Last December, the Bar Council said it had launched an investigation on the identity of the lawyers involved in Balasubramaniam’s second SD and possible misconduct in the drafting of the sworn statement on the matter but said Deepak had refused to co-operate.
The Bar Council is due to complete its probe into the possible misconduct in the drafting of the second SD soon, the English-language daily The Star reported today.
“The target is to make a decision at the council meeting in April,” the Council’s chairman Lim Chee Wee was quoted as saying.
Lim also reportedly said: “If we find prima facie evidence of misconduct, we will lodge a complaint with the Disciplinary Board.”
The Bar Council had in a press invite said that the Malaysian Bar would consider a motion at its 67th Annual General Meeting (AGM) tomorrow to set up an Independent Investigation Committee to probe the facts and the circumstances surrounding the preparation and execution of the second SD that was purportedly affirmed by Balasubramaniam.
A cloud of mystery has hung over the identity of the lawyer who drew up Balasubramaniam’s second SD, dated a day after his first on July 3, 2008, regarding the 2006 murder, for which two elite police commandos have been convicted and are facing death sentences.