Malaysia Abolishes Death Penalty, Paving Way For Hitman’s Return

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Death Penalty

Malaysia’s parliament has voted to remove the mandatory death penalty, potentially sparing over 1,300 prisoners on death row. Among them is Sirul Azhar Umar, a former bodyguard to ex-PM Najib Razak, who was convicted of murdering a Mongolian woman in 2006.

Who is Sirul Azhar Umar and why is he in Australia?

Sirul was a commando in the elite UTK of the Royal Malaysian Police. He and another officer were found guilty of killing Altantuya Shaariibuu, a translator and lover of one of Najib’s associates. Sirul fled to Australia while on bail pending an appeal. He was arrested by immigration officials in Brisbane in 2015. Australia has not extradited him because he faces the death penalty in Malaysia. Sirul has claimed he was ordered to carry out the killing but has refused to name his mastermind. He has also expressed his willingness to return to Malaysia and reveal the truth if he is granted a full pardon.

What does the abolition of the death penalty mean for Sirul?

The abolition of the death penalty means that Sirul could be deported to Malaysia if he drops his asylum claim in Australia. He would still have to serve a prison sentence for his crime, but he would not face execution. The move could also pave the way for a reopening of the investigation into Altantuya’s murder, which has been shrouded in mystery and speculation. Many Malaysians believe that Najib and his associate were somehow involved in the case, but both have denied any knowledge or connection. The new government of Malaysia, led by PM Mahathir Mohamad, has vowed to reform the judiciary and fight corruption. Mahathir has also said he wants Sirul to come back and testify about what really happened.

Sources: The Guardian, ABC News

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