A fugitive Malaysian police commando sentenced to death for the murder of a woman with links to the country’s highest political office 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.
The Australian understands lawyers for Sirul Azhar Umar made the case in response to a formal notice from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection that it was poised to refuse their client’s application for a Complementary Protection Visa because he had committed a “serious non-political crime” before entering Australia.
His 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.
Sirul, 46, 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 Mongolian translator and mother of two Altantuya Shaaribuu. He was reconvicted and sentenced to death by hanging in absentia in January 2015, and days later was detained by Australian immigration authorities for having overstayed his visa.
The former elite bodyguard for Malaysia’s most senior politicians said during his trial that he was a “black sheep sacrificed to protect unnamed people”.
He had applied for a visa to allow him to be released into the Australian community.
In February last year, he issued three videos from Sydney’s Villawood detention centre exonerating Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, of any link to Shaaribuu or her murder.
He also recanted a previous allegation she was pregnant with the child of a “certain person”.
Under Australian law, the government is obliged to grant a protection visa if a person faces serious human rights violation, or where a person faces real risk of being arbitrarily deprived of their life.
The act provides exemption clauses, rendering an applicant ineligible for 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.
Australia won’t deport a fugitive who faces execution upon their return, and Malaysian authorities have ruled out commuting Sirul’s death sentence.