KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed today that Malaysia has the right to not extradite fugitive Indian national Dr Zakir Naik, since the latter alleges he will not be accorded justice back home.
The prime minister reportedly compared the situation to Australia refusing to extradite Sirul Azhar Umar, former police commando, who was sentenced to death here for murdering Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“We requested Australia to extradite Sirul and they are afraid we are going to send him to the gallows,” he was quoted saying in Jasin, Melaka by The Star.
“Zakir in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial [in India].”
In February, an Australian court has rejected Sirul’s application for political asylum there after concluding his conviction for killing Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu was not 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.
It was reported earlier that India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) will seek Interpol’s cooperation to detain controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik with an eye on extraditing him from Malaysia to face money-laundering charges in the South Asian country.
The ED is reportedly working on getting a non-bailable warrant for Dr Zakir’s arrest from a Mumbai court, which it expects to secure on June 19.
It had charged Dr Zakir with laundering criminal money worth 193 crore Indian rupees (RM115 million) and allegedly bought illegal real estate assets across the world.
Dr Mahathir had last year said as long as Dr Zakir was not creating any problems in Malaysia, he would not be deported.
Last month, the televangelist has however conceded that he is willing to face justice back in India, but only if he is not arrested there until he is tried in court and convicted.
Dr Zakir has been controversial because of his puritan brand of Islam — recommending the death penalty for homosexuals and ex-Muslims, according to media reports.
He has been banned in several countries such as United Kingdom, Canada and Bangladesh, but has found refuge in Malaysia.
Putrajaya has said it does not find anything wrong with Dr Zakir’s speeches, and the Muslim preacher may stay in Malaysia as long as he does not break any laws.