Australia wants assurance Sirul will not be sent to the gallows

Guilty: Sirul (left) and Azilah.

PETALING JAYA - Malaysia will have to convince Australia that former police commando Sirul Azhar Umar will not be sent to the gallows before the country will agree to send him back, said a spokesman for Australia's Attorney-General's Department.

"Australia's extradition legislation does not allow a person to be surrendered to another country for an offence punishable by death unless the country has given Australia an undertaking that the death penalty will not be carried out on the person," the official said in an e-mail response to The Star.

Sirul faces the gallows in Malaysia over the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

The spokesman said that as a matter of longstanding practice, the Australian government did not comment publicly on extradition matters, including whether it has received an extradition request, until the person is arrested or brought before a court pursuant to a request.

Sirul, 43, was reported to have been in Australia since November.

He had, on Tuesday, failed to appear in the Federal Court which sentenced him and former chief inspector Azilah Hadri, 38, to death for the October 2006 murder of Altantuya, then 26. The court issued a warrant for his arrest.

In George Town, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the Inspector-General of Police and Attorney-General could bring the matter to the Australian court should the Australian government refuse to repatriate Sirul.

He said that as far as he was concerned, the police were still discussing the extradition with their counterparts in Australia.

"The Government strongly feels that Sirul should be extradited since he had been convicted by the Malaysian court of law. The Australian government should not interfere with the judiciary of Malaysia.

"We will exhaust all channels, including bringing the matter to the Australian court if we are not happy with their decision.

"It is within our right to file the extradition order for Sirul to be brought back. It will be a lengthy process. But we have not been told of the (Australian) government's decision yet," Dr Wan Junaidi said.