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'Not just Sirul, govt can also apply for death sentence review', says Shafee

Publish date: Fri, 01 Dec 2023, 04:22 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The government through the Attorney General (AG) could file for a review over the death sentence ruled against former police officer Sirul Azhar Umar who was convicted of the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaaribu in 2006.

Prominent lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah said one of the mechanisms of the newly enacted Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 allowed the court to undertake a revision based on applications from individuals involved in the case.

"The home minister (Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail) previously emphasised that the onus is on Sirul to request. However, I interpret it differently and I hope that the minister can take it (the suggestion).

"As I comprehend the provision (of the new law), the court can undertake a revision and in fact, anyone involved (in the case) can. However, I feel that public prosecutors could also file a request in their capacity as the AG, consonant with the request of the Australian government.

"(And) there are overwhelming and superb reasons if we present to the Federal Court on why we want Sirul's death sentence to be reduced to life imprisonment," he said during the Keluar Sekejap podcast hosted by former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Shahril Hamdan, today.

Shafee, who is also the lawyer of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said if the proposed mechanism proved unfeasible, the government could explore testifying to the record and amending the law accordingly.

"The government must test first and if you lose, you change the law. That same law can allow the AG to apply for a review in certain circumstances and this (Sirul's case) is one of them. Hence, it is actually doable and it is actually the government's call.

"I must also say that not just the current government, but the previous one too had been sitting on the case for too long.

"(And) it is not fair for the public, the deceased family as well as Najib who has been dragged (as the mastermind) in the case, multiple times."

Previously, Saifuddin reportedly said that Sirul could file a review through his lawyer over the death sentence ruled against him in 2009, however, the onus is on the former police officer on whether a review would be filed to change the sentence made against him.

Saifuddin said the review could be made considering that Malaysia has recently abolished the mandatory death penalty for a range of serious offences, including murder, terrorism, drug trafficking and treason.

He added that this was because there were differences in the extradition treaty between Malaysia and Australia as the country does not recognise nor impose mandatory death penalty for convicts.

Saifuddin added that the government could also only invoke the extradition treaty with Australia to bring back Sirul Azhar if his death sentence is reduced to imprisonment.

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