KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — DAP Legal Bureau chairman Ramkarpal Singh said that Malaysia should not jump to conclusions on whether or not fugitive televangelist Dr Zakir Naik will receive a fair trial in India and the government should respect its counterpart’s legal system.
In a press statement today, the Bukit Gelugor MP said that unlike the case of former police commando Sirul Azhar Omar where Australia refused to expatriate him as he faces the hangman’s noose, Dr Zakir is only still facing trial.
“Australia is not questioning if Sirul received a fair trial in Malaysia prior to his conviction and we should, likewise, not question if Zakir will or will not receive a fair trial in India as countries ought to respect each other’s legal systems unless, perhaps, if it is that of a rogue nation such as North Korea, in which case, discretion may be exercised against repatriation,” said Ramkarpal.
He was commenting on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement earlier between Dr Zakir and Sirul and said that it was a misconception to compare the two cases.
The lawmaker argued that India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to secure an arrest warrant against the extremist preacher and others in an ongoing trial in Mumbai under the country’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.
Sirul on the other hand is already facing a death sentence after the Federal Court had set aside the ex-cop’s acquittal by the Court of Appeal and affirmed his conviction and death sentence in connection with the murder of Mongolian model and interpreter Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“It is a known fact that Australia has a policy against the death penalty and refuses to extradite Sirul on the basis that he faces same upon his return to Malaysia.
“In other words, if not for the death penalty, it is likely that Australia would extradite Sirul, for example, in the event his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.
“As such, it is clear that Sirul has exhausted all his legal avenues and remains a convict facing the death penalty whereas Zakir has not been convicted and only faces a trial in India for now,” said Ramkarpal.
He also recalled an incident in May this year when Putrajaya repatriated Praphan Pipithnamporn to Thailand upon a request made by that country despite fears that Praphan would not receive a fair trial under Thailand’s strict lese-majeste laws which was condemned by various quarters, including Human Rights Watch.
Back then Dr Mahathir had said Malaysia had no choice but to accede to Bangkok’s demands for Praphan. Ramkarpal argued that Dr Zakir is in the same position as Praphan in this case.
“Zakir faces criminal charges in India and may well be acquitted if he successfully defends himself there. As such, his case cannot be compared to Sirul’s.
“Malaysia’s reluctance and possible refusal to repatriate Zakir to India if India requests the same, can also cause unnecessary tensions in bilateral relations between the two countries.
“With respect, such an outcome would certainly not be in the best interests of both countries and Malaysia should repatriate Zakir to his country to face the charges levelled against him there,” he said.