Fugitive cop makes final plea for Aussie protection

Sirul Azhar Umar was one of two commandos sentenced to death for the 2005 murder of a Mongolian model.
Sirul Azhar Umar was one of two commandos sentenced to death for the 2005 murder of a Mongolian model.PHOTO: CHINA PRESS

SYDNEY • A fugitive Malaysian police commando sentenced to death for the murder of a Mongolian woman linked has made a final appeal to Australian authorities not to reject his application for a protection visa, saying he faces a "very real prospect" of execution if deported.

Lawyers for Sirul Azhar Umar, 46, made the appeal in response to a formal notice from Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection that it was poised to refuse the Malaysian's application for a protection visa because he had committed a "serious non-political crime" before entering the country, The Australian reported yesterday.

Sirul and another police commando, Azilah Hadri, who guarded VVIPs, including Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, were sentenced to death in 2009 for the 2005 murder of Mongolian translator and model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Government critics and anti-corruption activists have long alleged that the two bodyguards were ordered by higher-ups to kill Ms Altantuya, who was 28, Agence France-Presse reported. Datuk Seri Najib has repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder.

Sirul jumped bail and fled to Brisbane in October 2014 as Malaysia's federal court was considering whether to reinstate his conviction, overturned on appeal, for the abduction and killing of the woman.

He was reconvicted and sentenced to death by hanging in absentia in January 2015, and days later, he was detained by Australian immigration authorities for having overstayed his visa.

Sirul had maintained during his trial that he was made a scapegoat to protect powerful individuals, The Australian reported. In February last year, he issued three videos from Sydney's Villawood detention centre exonerating Mr of any link to Ms Altantuya or her murder.

Under Australian law, the government is obliged to grant a protection visa when the applicant faces serious human rights violation or when there is real risk of arbitrary deprivation of life. But the applicant is ineligible if he had committed a war crime or crime against humanity or a serious non-political crime before entering Australia, or considered a danger to its community.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2017, with the headline 'Fugitive cop makes final plea for Aussie protection'. Print Edition | Subscribe