Altantuya killer loses asylum appeal, faces deportation
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 – Sirul Azhar Umar, the former bodyguard to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, will be deported to Malaysia, but only subject to the Malaysian government abolishing the death penalty.
This is the only conclusion after the former policeman had his final appeal for asylum rejected by the Australian government today, The Guardian reported.
In 2009, Sirul and his accomplice Azilah Hadri were convicted of murdering a former Mongolian model, Altantuya Shaariibuu, and were sentenced to death.
The Court of Appeal overturned the sentence in 2013 but the Federal Court upheld the death sentence upon the prosecution’s appeal in 2015.
However, before the appeal was heard, Sirul had already fled to Australia and was detained by the Australian Immigration after Interpol issued a red notice on him.
Meanwhile, Azilah is still awaiting a hearing on his plea for clemency.
Sirul: I was ordered to murder Altantuya
There had been statements from various political leaders and human rights NGOs that the two cops were merely acting on the orders of their higher-ups as they had no motive to kill Altantuya, especially by blowing her up with C4 explosives so as not to leave any trace of her body.
Sirul too had always insisted he was ordered to carry out the killing and in a rare exclusive interview with the Guardian last year said he had participated in the abduction but not the murder. He has refused to say who ordered the killing and no motive has ever been established.
As a result, Sirul had claimed that many in Malaysia see him as a political detainee and that he could not return to Malaysia, and that is why he sought protection from Australia.
He is expected to continue to be held at the high-security wing of Villawood detention centre outside Sydney, until and unless Malaysia abolishes the death penalty.
This is because as a policy, Australia does not allow the repatriation of any criminal who faces the death penalty in the country where they had been convicted.
Sirul return could see Altantuya murder case reopened
Political observers have previously noted that should Sirul return to Malaysia, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas could reopen the case, which had previously seen key witnesses not being called by the prosecution despite overwhelming evidence supporting such a move.
According to Guardian, Sirul had previously been refused a temporary protection visa in Australia on character grounds and an appeal against the decision was refused by the administrative appeals tribunal.
Death penalty to be abolished, says minister
Last October, it was announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong that a bill to abolish the death penalty would likely be tabled at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.
Liew, who is the defacto law minister, said that pending the bill being tabled and passed in the Dewan Rakyat, a moratorium has been put in place.
“All death penalties will be abolished. We need to look into it and hear the views of all, but as it stands today, the decision is to abolish the death penalty,” Liew had reportedly said.
He added that the Pardons Board will now be reviewing all pending applications by death row inmates.
However, the tabling of the bill has been delayed as a poll showed that many Malaysians say the country still needed a deterrent to drug traffickers and certain criminals, and wished to add some other crimes, such as sexual abuse of children and violent rapes to that which could see a person face the death penalty.
Under Malaysian law, the death penalty is mandatory for crimes such as pre-meditated murder, drug trafficking and possession of firearms.