Australia in bind as Malaysia seeks to extradite Altantuya killer Sirul

File photo of ex-policemen Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar (heads covered) at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on August 23, 2013. — Reuters pic
File photo of ex-policemen Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar (heads covered) at the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on August 23, 2013. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 ― Australia will face a diplomatic dilemma if Malaysia attempts to extradite Sirul Azhar Umar, convicted murderer of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, as the Abbott government is against the death penalty, Australian paper Sydney Morning Herald said today.

The paper reported yesterday Malaysian police as saying that they would request their Australian counterparts to arrest and extradite Sirul Azhar, who is now facing the gallows after the Federal Court overturned Tuesday the acquittal of the former police commando and of another ex-police commando, Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, over Altantuya’s murder.

“Australia opposes the death penalty. We oppose the death penalty for Australians at home and abroad,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was quoted saying in reference to Australian Myuran Sukumaran, a drug mule on death row who was denied clemency by Indonesia.

According to Sydney Morning Herald, Australia signed an extradition treaty with Malaysia in 2006.

The paper also reported Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Mohmad Salleh as saying that Malaysia would liaise with the Australian federal police to arrest Sirul if he was still in Australia, or with Interpol if the former police commando was elsewhere.

“To date, the Malaysian Immigration Department has confirmed that he went abroad, namely Australia. He went in October last year,” Mohmad was quoted saying.

Media reports said police would issue a “Red Notice” to Interpol to help detect Sirul Azhar and that an application for the extradition will be made with the country concerned.

Sirul Azhar, 43, and Azilah, 38, were charged with the murder of Altantuya in 2006.

Both men previously won their acquittal in 2013 and walked out of prison as free men.

In the August 23, 2013 acquittal, the Court of Appeal ruled that the High Court trial judge’s misdirection had rendered the duo's 2009 death sentence and conviction unsafe.

In 2009, the duo formerly with the police’s Special Action Unit (UTK) were found guilty of murdering Altantuya in Mukim Bukit Raja in Klang between 10pm on October 19, 2006 and 1am on October 20, 2006.

During the course of their trial, it was revealed that the Mongolian model was shot and her body blown up with explosives in a jungle clearing on the night of October 19.

The Federal Court reversed the acquittal Tuesday and sent them back to the gallows, marking the end to the eight-year saga.

The decision by a panel of five judges chaired by Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria was unanimous.