KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — A court in India today ordered fugitive Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik to be physically present in court on July 31 or risk facing an arrest warrant, a report said.
According to India's major newspaper Times of India, a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court has said it would issue a non-bailable warrant against Dr Zakir if he fails to show up in court then.
Today was the PMLA court's hearing of the Indian government's financial investigation agency Enforcement Directorate's (ED) application for a non-bailable warrant to be issued against Dr Zakir.
The ED previously charged Zakir with laundering INR193 crore (RM115 million) in illicit funds.
Dr Zakir is currently believed to be in Malaysia, where the previous government granted him permanent resident status in 2015.
Last week, The Hindu news site reported that the ED was seeking a non-bailable arrest warrant against Dr Zakir from a Mumbai court via a court hearing today.
The warrant would allow the Indian authority to petition Interpol for a Red Notice to member countries that include Malaysia, and to also ask Malaysian authorities to return the controversial Islamic preacher to India under the two countries’ extradition treaty.
On June 12, India's Ministry of External Affairs said the Indian government has made a formal request to Malaysia for Dr Zakir's extradition and would continue to pursue the matter with Malaysia, also saying that there has been multiple cases of successful extradition to India in the past and that the fairness of the Indian justice system has never been in question.
On June 16, Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Malaysian government has yet to receive any form of request from India for Dr Zakir to be extradited to India.
Following Dr Wan Azizah's reported comments, Malay Mail contacted India's Ministry of External Affairs for clarification, but has yet to receive a response.
Dr Zakir has been evading Indian authorities since 2016, when files were opened against him for allegedly making hate speeches and laundering money after five militants launched an attack at a bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh that ended with 29 dead.
One of the attackers was reported to have claimed that he had been inspired by the preacher’s speeches.
Locally, Dr Zakir has been accused of denigrating other faiths and being a threat to Malaysia’s multi-ethnic and multicultural harmony.