Malaysia 'may approach Australian courts to extradite convict on death row'

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian government will consider filing a case in the Australian courts should the country refuse to extradite convicted murderer Sirul Azhar Umar who faces the gallows in Malaysia for the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Deputy Home Minister Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the government strongly feels that Sirul, a former Special Action Unit officer, should be extradited since he has been convicted by the Federal Court.

"The Australian Government should not interfere with the judiciary of Malaysia. As far as we concerned, Sirul should be repatriated," he said.

"We will exhaust all channels, including bringing the matter to the Australian court should the need arise," he said after a working visit to the state police contingent headquarters here on Friday.

It was earlier reported that Australia would refuse the extradition of the former officer because it would violate the country's laws of not sending home a person facing the death sentence.

Sirul is reported to have been in Australia since November.

His lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin had earlier said Sirul could have legally left the country before he was convicted.

He added that the prosecution had not applied to have Sirul remanded pending the disposal of the appeal in the Federal Court against his acquittal.

Sirul, 42, caused a stir when he failed to appear in the Federal Court to hear the verdict against him for murder, with news reports emerging that he was in Australia. Sentenced to death with him was Azilah Hadri, 38.

The Federal Court has since issued a warrant for Sirul's arrest.