PUTRAJAYA: The death sentence imposed on Sirul Azhar Umar may be commuted to allow Australia to extradite the former police corporal back to Malaysia, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Prime Minister said this would allow authorities here to reopen the case of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
He noted that Australia’s law does not allow people who are facing the death sentence to return to their home country.
“We may revoke the death sentence that he (Sirul) is facing, and it may be replaced with a prison sentence or others.
“We have been asked to look into it (the Altantuya case) again, and we are looking into it,” he said yesterday.
Altantuya, 28, was believed to have been shot dead before her body was blown up near the Subang Dam in Shah Alam in 2006.
In a statement yesterday, the Australian High Commission confirmed that there is no agreement between the two countries to extradite Sirul.
However, it said discussions are ongoing between the two countries.
“Australia looks forward to continuing and strengthening our productive and longstanding law enforcement cooperation with the government of Malaysia,” the statement said.
Sirul had said that he was prepared to tell what actually transpired provided that he was given a full pardon. Sirul, along with Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, were sentenced to death in 2009.
In 2013, the Court of Appeal overturned their sentences. But the death sentences were later upheld by the Federal Court.
Sirul then fled to Australia where he was detained after Interpol issued a red notice on him.
On claims that Sirul feared for his life if he returned to Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said: “If he fears that other people might kill him, then he has the choice of not coming back, because we cannot force him to come back.”
When contacted, retired judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram said that Sirul would have to petition for clemency from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in order to have his death sentence revoked.
It is similar to a petition by any other convicted for a pardon, he said.
“Then his case has to be considered on merits.
“You mustn’t forget that this is a case where there is an intentional killing of an innocent person in the most cruel of circumstances.
“It is then up to His Majesty to consider the facts and advice received from the Pardons Board and decide whether or not to remit his sentence from death to imprisonment for life,” he said.
Gopal said that if that happens, the original sentence will then ceased to be operative.
He said the Attorney General will also sit with the Pardons Board and advise the King as to whether there should be a remission of sentence from death to life sentence.
Meanwhile, Ramkarpal Singh, who is the lawyer for Altantuya’s father Setev Shaariibuu, said there were efforts to bring his client to Malaysia to discuss the matter with Dr Mahathir.
“It should take about one to two weeks from now,” he said.