(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
A former bodyguard to the Malaysian Prime Minister is facing indefinite detention in Australia.
Sirul Azhar Umar was sentenced to death for murder, but came to Australia before he case finished.
Australian law prevents his deportation, so he’s in legal limbo.
Now, his family wants the Australian government to help.
Naomi Selvaratnam reports.
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It’s a murder case that’s caused a political storm in Malaysia.
Now, it’s reached Australia.
Sirul Azhar Umar fled Malaysia last year arriving in Queenland on a tourist visa before his conviction.
He’s since been detained at Villawood detention centre in Sydney.
Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad from the Islamic Party of Malaysia says Umar’s mother wants the Australian government to intervene.
“She’s requesting for the Australian authority to give him full protection in Australia. It’s more safer in Australia than going to Malaysia.”
In 2006, Mongolian interpreter and model, Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot twice in a jungle clearing near Kuala Lumpur, wrapped in military-grade explosives, and blown up.
Umar, a former bodyguard to the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, was convicted of her murder — alongside a former police official.
Last month, both were sentenced to hang.
Umar has always maintained his innocence.
His lawyer, Dato Mahfuz, claims Ms Shaariibuu was murdered to keep her quiet over alleged government corruption.
“The murder took place without motive. And in court, he maintained he was acting on orders. But the issue is who was giving the order?”
Sirul Umar is essentially in legal limbo.
He can’t be extradited to Malaysia because Australian law prevents the return of anyone facing the death penalty to their home country.
But he can’t be released in Australia, because he’s been convicted of murder.
His lawyer says, Malaysia has not yet made a formal extradition request.
International law expert, Professor Ben Saul says legal avenues in this case are limited.
“The sensible thing for the Malaysian government to do would be to simply give Australia a guarantee that Malaysia will not apply the death penalty.”
The Australian government doesn’t disclose if an extradition request has been received unless a person is arrested or brought before a court.