An­war: Sirul Azhar Umar should get a new trial

The Borneo Post - - FRONT PAGE -

SYD­NEY: For­mer Malaysian police of­fi­cer Sirul Azhar Umar, who f led Malaysia af­ter be­ing sen­tenced to hang for the killing of a Mon­go­lian wo­man, should face a new trial, Parti Kead­i­lan Rakyat de facto leader Datuk Seri An­war Ibrahim said yes­ter­day.

Sirul, who is now in Aus­tralian cus­tody, has claimed he was or­dered by ‘ im­por­tant peo­ple’ to mur­der Al­tan­tuya Shaari­ibuu in 2006.

Al­tan­tuya was linked to Ab­dul Razak Baginda – a for­mer close as­so­ciate of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Tun Razak – who was ac­cused of ar­rang­ing kickbacks for the pur­chase of French sub­marines in 2002.

Na­jib’s op­po­nents have long al­leged that Sirul and ac­com­plice Azi­lah Hadri, mem­bers of an elite unit that guards top Malaysian min­is­ters, were scape­goats in the killing to hide the in­volve­ment of their masters at the high­est lev­els of govern­ment. Sirul has pre­vi­ously threat­ened to re­veal who gave the or­der.

An­war, who was re­leased from prison on Wed­nes­day af­ter his sodomy con­vic­tion was quashed by the Agong, sug­gested Sirul should be brought back to Malaysia for a fresh trial.

He told The Aus­tralian the orig­i­nal trial and the judges’ rul­ing were ‘com­pro­mised’ and the re­luc­tance of the judges to call rel­e­vant wit­nesses ‘ made a mock­ery of the law’.

“The best way is to prof­fer a new charge and al­low for a full hear­ing of the case,” he said.

Sirul was re­port­edly de­tained in Aus­tralia in 2015 and has been held in cus­tody since, although Can­berra has never of­fi­cially con­firmed this.

A re­port in the Guardian last week said his bid for a pro­tec­tion visa would be heard within months.

Author­i­ties re­fused to con­firm this to AFP or com­ment on other de­tails of the case.

Ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per, Can­berra has al­lowed Malaysian of­fi­cials and their mid­dle­men to meet with him reg­u­larly, in­clud­ing one from Umno’s youth wing a fort­night ago.

It cited a source as say­ing the Malaysian vis­i­tor de­liv­ered a mes­sage to his coun­try­man, ‘ Don’t say any­thing.’

The scan­dal is one of Malaysia’s most sen­si­tive top­ics, with sus­pi­cions swirling for years that Al­tan­tuya was mur­dered to keep her quiet about shenani­gans in the sub­ma­rine deal.

Na­jib has re­peat­edly de­nied any wrong­do­ing over the deal amid al­le­ga­tions that French sub­ma­rine maker DCNS paid ‘com­mis­sions’ of more than 114 mil­lion eu­ros ( US$ 142 mil­lion) for two Scor­pene sub­marines, which Malaysian crit­ics al­lege were kickbacks.

Al­tan­tuya, 28, was shot dead and her body blown up with mil­i­tary-grade plas­tic ex­plo­sives out­side Kuala Lumpur.

Sirul and Azi­lah were con­victed in 2009 and sen­tenced to hang.

They were later re­leased when an appeals court over­turned the con­vic­tion in 2013 af­ter rais­ing ques­tions about how their trial was con­ducted.

But Malaysia’s high­est court up­held their death sen­tences in 2015. Sirul f led the coun­try ahead of that rul­ing. — AFP

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