No extradition request for Sirul, says Aussie foreign minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Australia says it has yet to receive any application from Malaysia for the extradition of the former policeman convicted of killing Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said Sirul Azhar Umar, who fled to that country after being sentenced to death for Altantuya’s murder in 2009, was being held in an immigration detention centre.

“Let me make this clear. He is in immigration detention. He is being held in detention and there has been no application for extradition. That was recently confirmed by (Prime Minister) Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” she told a press conference after paying a courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at her office in Parliament today.

When asked on the expected timeline for Sirul to be sent back to Malaysia, Bishop said it would be inappropriate for her to speculate on the matter since there was no extradition application.

In 2009, Sirul and chief inspector Azilah Hadri were sentenced to death after being found guilty of the 2006 murder of Altantuya. The Court of Appeal overturned the judgment but it was reinstated by the Federal Court.

Between the overturning of the judgment and its reinstatement, Sirul fled to Australia where he was detained by the immigration authorities.

Asked about Australia’s stand on the matter, Bishop said as a matter of principle, extradition cases would take into account whether the death penalty would be applied in the country seeking the extradition.

Wan Azizah was recently reported as saying that the government was mulling the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in legislation pertaining to criminal offences in a move that could leave Australian authorities with no choice but to send Sirul back.

When asked about this, Wan Azizah said the proposed abolition of the death penalty was among the matters discussed in her meeting with Bishop.

“We also spoke about the death penalty, about how Malaysia will look into the matter of the abolition of the death penalty,” she said.

Bishop said the abolition of the death penalty was a position that Australia had long advocated, both within the country and abroad.