Former cop Sirul Azhar freed from Australian immigration detention


PETALING JAYA: Former policeman Sirul Azhar Umar, 51, who was sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Mongolian model Altantunya Shaariibuu has been released from an immigration detention centre in Australia.

This was confirmed by his lawyer William Levingston to the British newspaper The Guardian; he said that Sirul has been released among dozens of people after a High Court decision on Wednesday (Nov 8) but could not be deported back to Malaysia.

ALSO READ: Australia won't extradite Sirul to Malaysia

Sirul, a former bodyguard of Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been forced to remain in the detention centre since his claim for asylum in Australia was rejected in 2019.

Levingston said that his client faces death by hanging in Malaysia for a murder conviction, and until the death penalty is abolished by the government, the Australian government would not be able to deport Sirul due to non-refoulement obligations.

The Daily Mail reported that Sirul was freed from Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney on Saturday and is now understood to be in Canberra, staying with a relative.

Sirul, a former commando, fled to Australia and sought asylum while on release pending an appeal.

In a rare interview with the Guardian Australia, Sirul said that he was ordered to carry out the killing but did not disclose who gave the instructions.

He added that he only participated in the abduction of Altantunya but not the murder.

In July 2020, then-Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador had said that Sirul still cannot be extradited to Malaysia

He had said that Australian laws dictate that no capital punishment must be carried out by the country where an individual is being extradited to.

ALSO READ: Sirul Azhar not ordered to remove firearm from Bukit Aman armoury, court told

"The matter of Sirul was raised during my meeting with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) this morning," said Abdul Hamid at a press conference in Bukit Aman on July 10, 2020

"It is still status quo as they will not extradite anyone to a country where the death penalty can be carried out on the individual," he added at the time.

It was reported in 2019 that Sirul would be extradited back to Malaysia on the condition that an undertaking is provided that his death penalty will not be carried out.

A spokesperson from the Australian Attorney General's Department said that the Attorney General must be satisfied that on return to the requesting country, there is no real risk that the death penalty will be carried out to the person in relation to the offence.

An Australian news portal reported that Sirul's political asylum bid was rejected by a court on Feb 18, 2019.

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