KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah confirmed today the receipt of India’s formal extradition request for preacher Dr Zakir Naik who is wanted there for money laundering.
However, he said that the government is maintaining its refusal to deport the controversial preacher, a Saudi citizen with Malaysian permanent resident status.
“We received the application from the Indian government, I don’t remember when.
“For now, there is no new decision. We are sticking to the original decision,” he was quoted as saying by the Free Malaysia Today portal.
India’s Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) secured a warrant for Dr Zakir’s arrest after filing money laundering charges against him, before saying it will seek his extradition from Malaysia.
A special Indian court for the country’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) then ordered the preacher to present himself there to stand trial.
Dr Zakir has refused to do so unless he is given a written guarantee that he will be allowed to remain free barring a conviction.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously said Malaysia could decline India’s extradition request, citing Australia’s refusal to extradite Sirul Azhar Omar to Malaysia that convicted the former police commando of murdering Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
However, DAP lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh has disputed this by saying the circumstances differed as Australian law prevented the country from extraditing a person to where he may be put to death; Sirul was given the death sentence here for the murder.
Dr Zakir has evaded 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 reportedly to have 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.
The previous Barisan Nasional government granted him PR status in 2015.