KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — An Australian court has rejected Sirul Azhar Umar’s application for political asylum there after concluding his conviction for killing Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu was not a political in nature.
Malaysia intends to seek the extradition of the former police commando — one of two sentenced to die for the murder — but must still repeal the country’s death penalty before Australia can legally comply.
Australia abolished the capital punishment and its laws prevent it from extraditing a person to a destination where he may be sentenced to death.
According to ABC News, a tribunal in Sydney, Australia, on Monday dismissed Sirul’s appeal, upholding their previous rejection of his bid for political asylum.
“There are serious reasons for considering that the applicant committed in Malaysia a serious non-political crime before entering Australia,” ABC News quoted from the tribunal’s ruling.
In 2009, Sirul and Azilah Hadri were found guilty of murdering Altantuya in 2006 but were released in 2013 on appeal.
The Federal Court reinstated their death sentence in 2015 but Sirul fled to Australia prior to the apex court’s ruling and has been detained there since.
He previously sought a moratorium on his sentence in return for “tell-all” about the murder that has been linked to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak by way of former aide Abdul Razak Baginda, but the Malaysian government rejected this.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk VK Liew said Putrajaya’s plan to repeal the death penalty could reach Parliament as soon as next month’s session, but added that this has yet to be approved by the Cabinet.
In Malaysia, police have reopened Altantuya’s murder investigation while her family has finally succeeded in getting their civil suit over her death to trial.