SIRUL Azhar Umar, who is facing the gallows in Malaysia for murder, has not been extradited by Australia as the country has a policy against capital punishment.
Controversial preacher Zakir Naik, meanwhile, has yet to stand trial in India. There is a possibility that he could be acquitted, said a lawyer, who added that the circumstances surrounding both cases were totally different.
Ramkarpal Singh said it is a misconception on the part of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohammad to equate both cases in deciding if Putrajaya will extradite the preacher to India.
“In other words, if not for the death penalty, it is likely that Australia would extradite Sirul, for example, in the event his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment,” the lawyer-cum-lawmaker said in a statement.
What sets the two cases apart is that Australia’s refusal to extradite the Malaysian is not on grounds that Sirul might not receive a fair trial.
“Australia is not questioning if Sirul received a fair trial in Malaysia prior to his conviction and we should, likewise, not question if Zakir will or will not receive a fair trial in India.”
Earlier today, Dr Mahathir had said India must first assure Putrajaya that Zakir will receive just treatment before the government decides whether to send him back.
Local media in India had reported that the country’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to secure an arrest warrant against Zakir and others in an ongoing trial heard by a special court in Mumbai under its Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.
“Before we accept an extradition request (from India), we need to know what will happen to the person who is to be extradited.
“We have a prisoner (Sirul) who fled to Australia. We asked Australia to send him back, but Australia said he would be hanged if sent back. So, Australia has disagreed to do so until now.
“So, we are also entitled to determine if the person we send back would be given fair justice as well,” the prime minister had said in Malacca.
Sirul is facing the death penalty after being convicted of the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. He fled to Australia and is currently being held at an immigration detention centre in Melbourne.
Drawing reference to the repatriation last month of Thai activist Praphan Pipithnamporn, who was extradited on Thailand’s request, Ramkarpal said Zakir’s position was no different from her’s.
Praphan was deported despite fears that she would not receive a fair trial under Thailand’s strict lese majeste laws, a move condemned by various quarters, including Human Rights Watch.
Ramkarpal said Zakir could be acquitted by the Indian courts if he successfully defends himself.
“As such, his case cannot be compared to Sirul’s.
“Countries ought to respect each other’s legal systems unless, perhaps, if it is that of a rogue nation, such as North Korea, in which case, discretion may be exercised against repatriation,” Ramkarpal, who is also Bukit Gelugor MP, said.
On the bilateral front, Malaysia’s reluctance and possible refusal to repatriate Zakir could strain ties between the countries, he said, adding this should also be considered in Malaysia’s decision to extradite Zakir to India.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT