Australia rejects Sirul’s claim for asylum

PETALING JAYA: Australia has rejected Sirul Azhar Umar’s claim for asylum, which could see the former policeman convicted of murdering Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu deported to Malaysia if Putrajaya abolishes the death penalty.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sirul had taken his case for political asylum to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney.

Citing an associate of Sirul’s who wished to remain anonymous, it said the tribunal rejected his initial claim on grounds that his offence was not a political crime.

Sirul’s appeal was rejected on Monday, on the same grounds.

Sirul was one of two men sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Altantuya.

He sought refuge in an immigration centre in Sydney, with Canberra saying it is not allowed by Australian law 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.

Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said the Cabinet would make a decision soon on bringing a proposal to Parliament to abolish the death penalty.

He said the decision would be made before the Dewan Rakyat convenes next month, with the views of all stakeholders taken into account.

The Cabinet decided to scrap the mandatory death penalty for all offences late last year.

All death sentences have been stayed until the abolition of the death penalty comes into effect.

The Cabinet is also considering the imposition of a minimum 30-year jail sentence if the mandatory death penalty is abolished.