‘Our right to refuse’: Malaysian PM dims hopes on Zakir Naik extradition
Malaysia has the right not to extradite Zakir Naik to India if he believes he will not get justice at home, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday.
Mahathir’s remarks again focused attention on the issue of the controversial preacher, who has lived in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia since he left India more than two years ago and whose case has become an irritant in bilateral ties.
The premier compared Naik’s case to Australia’s refusal to extradite Malaysian national Sirul Azhar Umar, a former police commando who was sentenced to death in Malaysia for murdering a Mongolian citizen.
“We requested Australia to extradite Sirul and they are afraid we are going to send him to the gallows,” Mahathir was quoted as saying by the Malaysian media.
“Zakir in general feels that he is not going to get a fair trial (in India),” he said.
There was no immediate response to Mahathir’s remarks from officials in New Delhi. Mahathir had said last year that Naik wouldn’t be deported as long as he did not create problems in Malaysia. He had also said that Malaysia must look at “all factors” in Naik’s case before its responds as “someone will become a victim”.
The Enforcement Directorate has sought Interpol’s cooperation to detain and extradite Naik to face money-laundering charges. It has charged Naik with laundering crores of rupees.
Last month, Naik had said he is willing to face justice in India but only if he isn’t arrested until he is tried and convicted in court. Naik has been barred from entering countries such as Britain and Bangladesh and his sermons are banned in Singapore.