Issues remain in extraditing Sirul

KUALA LUMPUR: The extradition agreement between Malaysia and Australia can only be invoked on former policeman Sirul Azhar Umar (pic) if his death penalty sentence is commuted to life imprisonment, says the Home Minister.

Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said this was due to the dual criminality requirement in the agreement that needs to be satisfied.

Dual criminality refers to a criminal act in both countries that carries similar sentences, he added.

“Therefore, while we have an extradition agreement (with Australia), there is a difference (in terms of sentencing).

“In Malaysia, Sirul has been sentenced with a death penalty. Meanwhile, Australia is a country that does not recognise the death penalty.

“Among the agreements that need to be satisfied before an extradition is allowed is for the crime to have an element of dual criminality,” he told the reporters at the media room in the Parliament building yesterday.

Malaysia has abolished the mandatory death sentence from July 4, to vary the sentence relating to imprisonment for natural life and whipping.

Under the Abolition of the Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 (Act 846), the court now has the discretion to impose the death penalty or imprisonment for a period of not less than 30 years, but not exceeding 40 years, and if not sentenced to death, shall also be punished with whipping of not less than 12 strokes.

Saifuddin Nasution said that the onus is now on Sirul, through his lawyer, whether or not to file a review to commute his sentence to life imprisonment instead.

“As a matter of fact, the sentence still exists. Only the mandatory element has been changed.

“The question now is would Sirul, through his lawyer, apply to review the sentence?” he added.

He said if the review results in a change of his sentence from a death penalty to life imprisonment, only then could the extradition process start.

“The appeal can end with a change in terms of sentencing, while the conviction maintains. However, this is still an assumption,” he added.

Asked if any application by Sirul’s lawyer has been filed, Saifuddin Nasution said he has no information regarding the matter.

Sirul, 51, who was sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Altantunya Shaariibuu, has been released from an immigration detention centre in Australia.

In 2009, he and former chief inspector Azilah Hadri were convicted of murdering the Mongolian model and were sentenced to death.

The Court of Appeal overturned their sentences in 2013 but upon the prosecution’s appeal, the sentences were upheld by the Federal Court.

Sirul fled to Australia, where he was detained by Immigration there after Interpol issued a red notice on him.

He was released last week after an Australian High Court decision on Nov 8 ruled that non-citizens unable to be deported could no longer be detained indefinitely.

Altantuya, 28, is believed to have been shot dead before her body was blown up with explosives at a secondary forest near the Subang Dam in Puncak Alam, Shah Alam, in 2006.

Meanwhile, a motion has been filed by a government backbencher to discuss efforts to extradite Sirul back to the country.

In the letter to the Speaker, Lim Lip Eng (PH-Kepong), who filed the motion under Standing Order 18 (2), said that the matter to bring back Sirul from Australia was a specific issue that required immediate attention.

He also argued that the government’s effort to extradite Sirul should be sped up after he was released from detention in Sydney Australia on Nov 11.

In a related development, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Husain echoed Saifudin’s views, saying there will be issues concerning the death penalty in any extradition request to bring Sirul back here.

The IGP said that as long as the death sentence on Sirul remained enforceable, it is unlikely that Australia would cooperate in his extradition.

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