Sirul Azhar Umar, who was sentenced to death for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu has appealed to Australian authorities not to reject his application for a protection visa, saying he faces the “very real prospect” of execution if deported to Malaysia.
Sirul’s lawyers had until last Monday to provide extra information that might aid his case, including evidence to support a previous claim that he had been made a political scapegoat, The Australian reported.
They were responding to a formal notice from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that it was likely to deny their client’s application for a Complementary Protection Visa because he had committed a “serious nonpolitical crime” before entering Australia.
On Oct 18, 2008, Sirul was jointly charged with his superior, former chief inspector Azilah Hadri, with killing Altantuya in 2006.
Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, an aide to then deputy prime minister Najib Razak, was charged with abetting Sirul and Azilah. He was acquitted by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008. The prosecution did not appeal against his acquittal.
In 2009, the Shah Alam High Court found Sirul and Azilah guilty of murdering Altantuya and sentenced them to death by hanging.
However, on Aug 23, 2013, the Court of Appeal freed them, which led the government to take the case to the Federal Court.
On Jan 13, 2015, the Federal Court reconvicted and sentenced to death both men.
Sirul was not present to hear the verdict as he had fled to Brisbane in October 2014. Days later, he was detained by Australian immigration authorities for having overstayed his visa and sent to Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre.
Since then, he has been awaiting a decision on his application for a visa.
The former elite bodyguard for Malaysia’s most senior politicians, including Najib, said during his trial that he was a “black sheep sacrificed to protect unnamed people”.
“I was under orders. The important people with motive are still free,” Sirul was quoted as saying on Feb 17, 2015.
This fuelled rumours of very important politicians being behind the murder of Altantuya.
However, in February last year, Sirul issued three bizarre videos exonerating Prime Minister Najib Razak of any link to Altantuya or her murder.
He also recanted a previous allegation that she was pregnant with a child of a “certain person”.
Although there is an extradition treaty between Australia and Malaysia, the Australian government is obliged under its law to grant a protection visa if a person faces serious human rights violation or where a person faces the real risk of being put to death.
However, the act provides exemption clauses, rendering an applicant ineligible for a protection visa if they committed a war crime or crime against humanity, a serious non-political crime before entering Australia, or are considered a danger to the Australian community.