Sunday, April 14

Former Malaysian Police Officer, Sirul Azhar Umar, Released from Australian Detention Center

In a significant development, Sirul Azhar Umar, a former Malaysian police officer sentenced to death for the 2006 murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, has been released from an immigration detention centre in Australia.

The release follows a High Court decision overturning the legality of indefinite immigration detention for non-citizens without visas.

Sirul’s lawyer, William Levingston, confirmed the release, stating that his client would not be deported to Malaysia due to the death penalty he faces.

Levingston emphasised, “My client is facing death by hanging in Malaysia for a murder conviction, and until the death penalty is abolished by the Malaysian government, the Australian government is unable to deport Sirul Umar due to non-refoulement obligations.”

Sirul’s son, Shukri Azam, based in Australia, confirmed his father’s release in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald. Shukri stated, “(He is) with me right now, and I’m handling everything on his behalf right now.”

Despite Malaysia’s recent abolition of the mandatory death penalty for serious crimes, including murder, Shukri asserted that he and his father have no plans to return to Malaysia.

The case revolves around the murder of Altantuya, who was shot in the head in 2006 in a forest in Puncak Alam, Selangor.

Her body was later destroyed with explosives. Sirul and fellow former police officer Azilah Hadri were initially convicted in 2009, had their conviction overturned in 2013, but the Federal Court reinstated the conviction in 2015, sentencing them to death.

Sirul fled to Australia before the final verdict and had been held at the Villawood immigration detention centre since 2015.

His first asylum application in Australia was rejected in 2019. Azilah Hadri remains on death row at Kajang Prison in Malaysia.

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