Sirul Azhar Umar, who was released together with dozens of non-citizens after a landmark High Court ruling two weeks ago in Australia, could be put back behind bars under laws similar to those used to deal with terrorists which are being considered by the government.
According to Australian news reports, the government is considering applying this to some of the most violent among the 93 offenders who were released.
The offences being mentioned include rape, murder and paedophilia.
Sirul, who is facing the death sentence in Malaysia for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu together with former police colleague Azilah Hadri, is consistently referred to as “a hitman who blew up the body of a pregnant Mongolian woman after killing her” in most of the Australian news reports.
“The federal government has sought legal advice on the prospect of using preventative detention-style laws to re-detain non-citizens who had served jail time for offences such as rape and murder,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald, which quoted two sources.
The report said this was one of a range of options being considered to lower the risk posed by the worst offenders among those released so far, adding that the number freed was expected to grow in the coming weeks.
Australia’s most powerful court earlier this month ruled indefinite immigration detention was illegal, creating a political storm for the government as dozens of former criminals were suddenly set free.
“The sources said the government had not yet settled on the preventative detention option or any similar arrangement.
“It was seeking to learn if it was on solid legal ground to enact new rules before the High Court published the full reasons for its decision next year,” the report said.
After intense criticism of the speed and force of his government’s response to the court decision, Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese insisted he was prepared for the fallout.
The report said he deflected a question about whether the government was considering preventative detention measures, instead emphasising the importance of reading the court’s detailed reasons for the judgment that upended decades of immigration detention policy.
“We are doing all that we need to do, everything within our power, to keep people safe. That’s our first, second and third priority,” Albanese said on Sky News.
“What we’ve done is deal with what is an unfortunate position. It’s not one that we wanted. We didn’t make the decision to release these people.”
FMT has reached out to the Australian Department of Home Affairs for comment. – FMT