Sirul extradition unlikely unless death sentence commuted, reports Australian media

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 22): Sirul Azhar Umar is not likely to be extradited to Malaysia to face the death penalty over the death of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, Australian media reported yesterday, adding the country's laws would prevent such a move.

The 9news.com.au online portal reports that "legislation does not allow for an individual to be surrendered to another country for an offence punishable by death".

The only exception would be in the event the country requesting the extradition gives an undertaking that the death penalty will not be carried out.

The portal continued that Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar wants Australia to respect the extradition treaty between the two countries, as well as the the Malaysian justice system.

Meannwhile, Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop, who is in Washington, was reported as saying that she was "not in a position to give any details in relation to the matter", or how it would affect the relationship between the two countries.

Sirul was arrested in Brisbane last night by immigration officials after Interpol issued a "red notice".

A red notice by Interpol signifies authorities are attempting to seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.

On January 13, Sirul did not turn up at the Federal Court, which allowed the prosecution's appeal and sentenced him and Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri to death, overturning their acquittal by the Court of Appeal in August 2013.

It was reported that Sirul had left the country two months earlier and did not have enough money to return to Malaysia.

Federal Court judge Suriyadi Halim Omar said the prosecution had proved its case to implicate the two with Altantuya's murder.

The Mongolian, who worked as a translator, was brutally murdered with her remains, believed to have been destroyed by C4 explosives, discovered in the outskirts of Shah Alam.

Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a confidante of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was charged with abetting Azilah, but was acquitted in 2008. The government did not appeal the acquittal.

According to 9News, Altantuya allegedly had connections to high-ranking Malaysian government officials, including Najib, and was said to be pregnant at the time of her death.

Najib, who was the defence minister and deputy prime minister at the time, has repeatedly denied knowing the model nor having any knowledge of the model's killing, the portal reported.