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41 to be sent back to India to serve out their prison time

NEW DELHI: A total of 41 prisoners from India now held in Malaysian prisons and serving less than six months of incarceration will be allowed to return home to serve the remainder of their terms under a request brought up by the Indian government, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).

The move was agreed upon following his meeting with India's National Security Adviser Ajit Doval here Monday.

He said the 41 prisoners had fulfilled all obligations under international law on the transfer of prisoners, including having six months of jail term from the date of the transfer request by the prisoners.  

They must not be those who have been sentenced to death, or who committed rape or sodomy.  

"These people should be those who were sentenced for non-serious crimes in both countries. We have studied their cases and agree that they can return to serve their sentences.  

"Malaysia and India will discuss the legal details before the transfer is agreed upon. The date to begin the transfers will be finalised after the Attorney-General gives the green light," he told Malaysian journalists here.  

Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is Home Minister, said it would be preferable if there were a prisoner exchange programme with India, adding that Malaysia was responding to India's request on the matter.  

He also asked the Malaysian High Commission in India to find out how many Malaysians are being held in Indian prisons before any further move to initiate a prisoner exchange programme is made with India.  

He added that prisoner exchange programmes had been carried out with, among others, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, the Philippines and Romania.  

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the 41 are from a total of 361 Indian prisoners, of whom 19 are women.  

He said there are now 55,000 prisoners in Malaysia, and 16,000 or 29% of them are foreigners.  

Dr Ahmad Zahid and Ajit also discussed cooperation between Malaysian and Indian police on fighting drug trafficking, adding that 19 Indian citizens are being detained for drug-related cases in Malaysia.