Group says death penalty in the way of seeking truth behind Altantuya’s murder

Former policeman Sirul Azhar Umar, one of two men sentenced to death for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.

PETALING JAYA: A group campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty says doing away with the punishment would help bring to justice those responsible in the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) was referring to Australia’s refusal to release Sirul Azhar Umar, one of two men sentenced to death for the murder of the Mongolian citizen in 2006.

Sirul has since sought refuge in an immigration centre in Sydney, with Canberra saying it is not allowed by Australian laws to deport him due to the death sentence awaiting him in Malaysia.

Australian laws prohibit the extradition of anyone to face the death penalty in his home country.

Madpet said cancelling Sirul’s death sentence would allow him to be returned to Malaysian authorities to assist investigators in shedding light on the brutal murder of Altantuya.

“The abolition of the death penalty will make those who ordered or paid others to do the crime be identified, as those caught or convicted will more likely help make this happen if their assistance can reduce the sentences imposed,” Madpet spokesman Charles Hector said in a statement today.

He also questioned the delay in amending the laws to do away with the death sentence despite Putrajaya’s promise.

Madpet said supporters of the death penalty appeared unaware of the “just reasons” for its abolition, or could be furthering a political strategy.

“They may also be people who fail to appreciate the suffering of the children and families, simply because a parent or sibling is executed.

“They fail to appreciate that even the mandatory death penalty has failed to reduce murder or drug trafficking in Malaysia,” Hector said.