AUSTRALIAN authorities will extradite Sirul Azhar Omar, the former prime ministerial bodyguard convicted of the murder of a Mongolian model in a scandal that rocked ex-premier Najib Razak’s leadership, according to a UK newspaper.
A source told The Guardian that Australia had approved the Malaysian government’s request for Sirul to be brought back to his home country after Malaysia agreed to pay for the costs. The extradition will likely take place in a month.
The move is seen as an indication that Malaysia was looking to reopen the case of 28-year-old Altantuya Shaariibuu’s death, which sparked various controversies, including accusations that Najib was linked to the gruesome murder.
Sirul had earlier sought asylum in Australia but was detained by immigration authorities. Australia also refused various requests for Sirul to be extradited to Malaysia as he faced capital punishment. However, the Australian authorities agreed to send him home after the Malaysian government assured that he would receive fair treatment.
After the shock election defeat on May 9, Najib and several other associates are being investigated for a slew of corruption allegations that were believed to have been swept under the rug during his time in office.
Razak Baginda, an analyst and close confidant of Najib, was charged with abetting two Special Action Squad members- Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar and Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri to commit the crime.
A high court ruling said Razak Baginda had no prima facie case to answer in the murder trial of Altantuya, an ex-lover of Razak, whose remains were destroyed by explosives and was found in a deserted area in 2006.
The two men, who were also reported to be bodyguards of Najib, were eventually convicted and are awaiting appeal against their death sentences.
Razak was linked to the murder based on handwritten notes in one of the convicted criminal’s bag. He had claimed that Altantuya was harassing and threatening him for money after he jilted her.
The high-profile case had drawn both local and international interest, and based on diplomatic cables leaked to the media, frequent discussions were held on whether Malaysia’s then-Prime Minister was involved in the killing.
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It is reported that the murder was tied closely to the US$1-billion acquisition of French submarines by the Malaysian ministry of defense, of which Najib was the minister.
Some reports claimed that Altantuya acted as a translator for the transaction, and was offered money for her role.
However, she threatened to tell on Razak when she was not paid.
Najib was never implicated in the murder trial, given that no concrete evidence of his involvement in the issue were ever presented, although a former policeman and private investigator, P. Balasubramaniam, filed a sworn statement saying that Razak had told him that Najib not only knew Altantuya but even had an affair with her.
In his defense, Najib had sworn on the Koran that he had never met Altantuya.