It is not surprising that Sirul’s application for a protection visa was thrown out the window as soon as it was heard.
Sirul opted to follow the bad advice of his ‘Malaysian Dream Team’ instead of the advice of the professionals engaged to ensure he had the best chance of succeeding in his visa application. Perhaps this was due to the fact that a successful visa application depended on Sirul making a full and frank disclosure as to the reasons why he committed the murder.
Christopher Levingston filed Sirul’s application for a ‘Protection Class XA sub-class 866 Visa’ on the 24 April 2015.
Much email correspondence was thereafter exchanged between Robert Chelliah, the migration expert and Christopher Levingston, the Australian immigration lawyer. They both discussed the obvious cover up being attended to by those with a vested interest in suppressing the truth. This was affecting Sirul’s chance of securing the visa he desperately needed and they were concerned.
On the 15 May 2015, a frustrated Robert Chelliah sent an email to Christopher Levingston voicing his concerns. The email reads as follows:
“It is now well established in the public domain that his Malaysian defence lawyers are manipulating Sirul to protect some VVIPs who are also alleged involved in the murder.
Sirul tells me that his Malaysian lawyers have advised him not to confess to the crime.
He has been frightened by misinformation that if he admits to the offence he will be immediately repatriated back to Malaysia to be hanged”.
Robert and Christopher were well aware of the fact that Sirul would have to advance extenuating circumstances explaining why he was forced to commit murder, if there was any chance his visa application would succeed.
Sirul’s Malaysian lawyers were also well aware of the fact that Australia would not allow Malaysia to extradite Sirul (even if he admitted the murder) because he would face the death penalty. Australia no longer kills criminals because they feel this is not right and besides, it is against God’s law. Therefore, they will never send a human being back to a place where he or she will be slaughtered.
Robert’s email continued:
“Accordingly Sirul has made a seven page written statement in Malay denying he was involved in the murder, other than to assist apprehending the victim and handing her over to his co-convict. He says he has 3 more pages of statement to make.
The Malaysian team and some of his Australian team are apparently working to accommodate Malaysian political agenda, rather than to act for the best interest of Sirul”.
Levingston responded with a short sharp “I agree”.
So really, all Sirul needed to do was to admit the offence and provide a reason why he had to commit it.
The Malaysian contingent didn’t want him to do this because it would have been embarrassing to their master.
So, instead, they were prepared to throw Sirul under the bus.
Visa Application Rejected
It came as no surprise when Sirul’s visa application was rejected. In essence, the reasons given were stated to be as follows:
“Given Mr. Umar’s standing conviction for murder, I would seriously consider Mr. Umar to be a risk of breaching condition 8554. Further to that I would consider Mr. Umar to be a serious risk to the good order and safety of the community….The grant of a visa to Mr. Umar in these circumstances would be at odds with the Australian community’s reasonable expectation that non-citizens residing in the community are of good character”.
Mr Umar must continue to be detained under s. 189 of the Migration Act”.
In the Meantime
Whilst the visa saga was proceeding along the wrong lines, other interesting matters began to emerge.
Sirul’s ex-wife and brother-in-law realized the likelihood of becoming vicariously wealthy from the original plan was fading rapidly. They were stuck with Sirul’s son. They didn’t want him anymore.
Datuk Ganasan, the Butler, was asked to sort this problem out. He sought the help of the Malaysian High Commission in Canberra, who found a couple willing to act as foster parents to Sirul’s son, Shukri Azam.
Shukri Azam was only 15 years old at the time he was taken into foster care. He is now a 20-year old adult who has obtained the right to live in Australia and is presently roaming the streets of Sydney getting into trouble with the law.
His father can do nothing because he is still under detention in Villawood to this day.
Change in Tack
Meanwhile back at Villawood, it dawned on Sirul (and perhaps his lawyers too) that he would get nowhere with his rejected protection visa application unless he altered the angle at which he approached this problem.
Sirul’s only recourse was to lodge an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) against the decision made by the immigration officer who rejected his original application.
The AAT is a body which reviews administrative decisions made in the course of duties performed by decision makers in different governmental departments in Australia. It is not a judicial process but a merits-based review.
Christopher Levingston was Sirul’s lawyer at the hearings, which eventually took place on the 22 August and 22 November 2018, before Deputy President BW Rayment OAM QC, who took time to deliberate before delivering his decision on the 18 February 2019.
This is BW Rayment’s decision:
Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia
Note paragraph 18:
“Evidence was led from the applicant before me when the matter resumed before me in November 2018 that the applicant had been ordered to kill the victim because she was a Russian spy. He said again that he had refused to carry out that order. The uncorroborated evidence given by the applicant that orders were given to him to assassinate a Russian spy did not satisfy me that orders had been given to him in those terms, or that he was acting on any such basis.“
The Applicant (Sirul) had been ordered to kill the victim because she was a “Russian spy”.
The Deputy President, DW Rayment, did not accept Sirul’s explanation simply because it was ‘uncorroborated evidence’.
Perhaps if Mr. Rayment had the opportunity of reading Azilah’s subsequent statutory declaration, he may have come to a different finding and Sirul would be free to roam the streets of Sydney, penniless of course.
Remember, Azilah said he was ordered to kill a ‘foreign spy’.
Russia is a foreign country, therefore by simple deduction, a Russian spy would be a foreign one.
What is unbelievable is the fact that two incarcerated felons, in different parts of the world, with no means of communicating, could come up with the same details independently of each other.
The chances of this happening are so remote that one would be more than inclined to accept that what both said about a ‘foreign spy’ must be the truth.
This would mean that the orders given were indeed to get rid of Altantuya because she was a foreign spy and an inherent danger to the well-being of the nation.
This detail lends credence to what Azilah said in his SD, which in turn, supports what Sirul said before the AAT, and vice versa.
We will never know if Sirul changed his mind at the last moment and decided to distance himself from the advice he had been given, and to tell the truth before the AAT (to no avail, unfortunately).
The Deputy President found that even if Sirul’s confession (that he was ordered to kill by the Malaysian Government), was accepted as the truth, the crime would nevertheless have been a ‘non-political’ one.
As the crime was ‘non-political’, Sirul had no chance of obtaining a protection visa under section 36 of the Migration Act.
The Freedom of Information Act in Australia prevents anyone from obtaining the recorded transcript of the proceedings before the Tribunal on the 22 August and 22 November 2018. We will never know what Sirul said but the decision certainly gives us a very big clue as to where he was coming from.
Sirul’s Australian lawyer, Christopher Levingston, (photo) who spent many years trying his best to advance Sirul’s interests against all odds, no longer represents him. Understandably he is obliged by solicitor/client confidentiality not to release any information in relation to Sirul’s instructions or his extraordinary change of stance in this matter.
Sirul remains locked up in Villawood, a political thorn in the side of the Australian government simply because they can’t send him back to Malaysia if he is to be hanged.
The only way to get Sirul back to Malaysia is if his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment or if he is given a royal pardon, or his conviction set aside.
We await developments. Perhaps negotiations are going on as this is written. Whatever the case, Sirul has most certainly caused a massive international political quagmire for Australia.
Azilah’s Application to set aside his Conviction based on his SD
We also await, with bated breath, the outcome of Azilah’s application for a review of the 2015 Federal Court decision (to re-instate his conviction and death sentence) when this comes up for hearing on the 20 April this year.
Remember, the respondent in this review application is the Attorney General. If the AG feels there are merits in the application for setting aside the conviction and for a re-trial to take place, then he may, in all probability, not oppose the application. This is because his job is to make sure justice is done, especially to a victim of a crime.
If the Federal Court, in those circumstances, are minded to agree, then the convictions of both Azilah and Sirul will be set aside. If this happens, then Sirul would be a free man and Australia would have him on the next flight back to KL.
The Attorney General may then consider fresh charges being brought against Azilah. Sirul and anyone else he feels may be involved in this murder, including Razak Baginda, even though he may have been acquitted previously. The ‘double jeopardy rule may not apply if it can be shown that there is fresh evidence available now, which was not available at the original trial.
There is every possibility that proper investigations (sans cover ups), this time, will ultimately lead to the identification of those who actually gave the orders to Azilah to eliminate this ‘foreign spy’.
But the biggest benefit to the prosecution this time around would be the corroborative evidence of both Azilah and Sirul as witnesses. They now both say the same thing. This is a time bomb waiting to explode. The hidden hands behind this murder must certainly be quivering in their shoes.
We live in interesting times.