Ramkarpal: Don’t equate Dr Zakir’s case with Sirul’s

Ramkarpal: Don’t equate Dr Zakir’s case with Sirul’s

PUCHONG: Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh pointed out that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad erred in equating Australia’s refusal to return Sirul Azhar Umar to the cabinet’s stand of not giving up Indian Muslim preacher, Dr Zakir Naik to India.

“It is a known fact that Australia has a policy against the death penalty and refuses to extradite Sirul on the basis that he faces same upon his return to Malaysia,” said the lawmaker who is also DAP legal bureau chief in a statement.

“In other words, if not for the death penalty, it is likely that Australia would extradite Sirul, for example, in the event his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.”

He said this in response to reports that India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) is set to secure an arrest warrant against Zakir and others in an ongoing trial in Mumbai under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

Dr Mahathir had said that Malaysia had the right to not extradite Zakir similar to the stand taken by Australia in the case of Sirul Azhar Umar who was convicted and sentenced to death.

The backbencher also pointed out that the refusal on the part of Australia was also not due to the inability to get a fair trial as claimed by Zakir.

Zakir has consistently claimed that he would not get a fair trial and even demanded the Indian Supreme Court to guarantee his freedom before he is found guilty.

“The most obvious feature which distinguishes Sirul’s and Zakir’s cases, therefore, is the fact that Australia’s refusal to extradite Sirul is not on account of his inability to receive a fair trial, but because he faces the death penalty as he has been convicted.

“Australia is not questioning if Sirul received a fair trial in Malaysia prior to his conviction and we should, likewise, not question if Zakir will or will not receive a fair trial in India as countries ought to respect each other’s legal systems unless, perhaps, if it is that of a rogue nation such as North Korea, in which case, discretion may be exercised against repatriation.”

Ramkarpal added that Zakir’s case should be handled by Putrajaya in the same way as the case of Praphan Pipithnamporn to Thailand despite fears of not getting a fair trial under the country’s lese-majeste laws.

“The PM was reported as saying then that Malaysia had no choice but to do so as Thailand had requested Praphan to be extradited.  The position is the same in Zakir’s case.”