KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Controversial Mumbai-born Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik insists he will not return to his home country where he is wanted for money laundering charges unless the Indian Supreme Court issues a written guarantee that he will not be jailed until proven guilty.
The Malaysian permanent resident was responding to Indian news reports that New Delhi will issue another warrant for his arrest to appear before a special court in Mumbai next month.
“I don’t understand the need for another warrant against me when similar warrant was issued in the courts twice in 2017.
“There was no need for this, especially in the absence of any evidence or proof of wrongdoing. This is merely to keep me in the news and take away focus from important matters facing the country.
“Let me make my previous offer again. If the Supreme Court of India gives me in writing that I will not be arrested and jailed until I am convicted, I will return to India, and I will make myself available to the courts,” he was quoted saying by local daily theSun.
Indian media reported yesterday that the Mumbai court dedicated to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) ordered Dr Zakir to be presented in person on July 31 to face charges or it would issue a non-bailable warrant of arrest for his capture.
India’s Enforcement Directorate previously filed charged accusing Dr Zakir of laundering INR193 crore (RM115 million) in illicit funds.
The court arrest 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.
India's Ministry of External Affairs announced on June 12 that it would make a formal request to Malaysia to extradite Dr Zakir, adding that the fairness of its courts have never been questioned.
But Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Malaysian government has yet to receive any extradition request for the preacher from India as at June 16.
Malay Mail has contacted India's Ministry of External Affairs for comment on the extradition request but have yet to receive a reply.
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.