Australia considering extradition of Sirul, says minister


(Bernama) – The Australian government will ‘consider’ any application for extradition, including of convicted murderer Sirul Azhar Umar, said a visiting Australian minister.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said the matter of Sirul Azhar’s extradition was raised at his meeting with Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today.

Nevertheless, Dutton pointed out that a very stringent legal process was involved.

In confirming to journalists that the extradition of Sirul Azhar was among the topics raised during his meeting with Ahmad Zahid, Dutton said, “In relation to this matter, that can take some time. We have due respect for your country, with your rule of law. There is a robust legal system to go through.”

Corporal Sirul Azhar had gone to Australia before the Federal Court, in overturning a Court of Appeal decision, found him and Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri guilty of having murdered a Mongolian, Altantuya Shaariibuu, in 2006.

The Federal Court then issued a warrant of arrest for Sirul Azhar.

On January 20, Sirul Azhar was reported to have been arrested by the immigration authorities in Queensland, Australia, for an immigration offence. The report also said that he was being held at an immigration detention centre.

On January 16, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Australian government would not entertain a Malaysian government request to have Sirul Azhar extradited.

Australian extradition law does not allow a person to be extradited to face an offence that carries the death penalty.

Dutton was also bombarded with questions from reporters as to how Sirul Azhar was able to have access to phone calls following a claim by PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar that he managed to contact the former special action unit personnel.

However, Dutton said he could say whether any individual in Malaysia had telephoned Sirul Azhar.

“That is something I can’t confirm or deny,” he said.

Last Monday, Mahfuz claimed that he managed to contact an individual who claimed to be Sirul Azhar in the presence of local and international journalists, after 15 attempts.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said he did not rule out the possibility of Malaysia applying for Sirul Azhar’s extradition from Australia or arranging a prisoner exchange with that country.

Asked by reporters if Malaysia would make such application, he replied, “Yes. Possible. We have an extradition treaty with Australia.” Ahmad Zahid was approached after Dutton had left.

Malaysia concluded on extradition treaty with Australia in 2006.