[SYDNEY] Sirul Azhar Umar, a former bodyguard of Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak, faces eventual deportation from Australia after a Sydney court this week rejected his appeal for political asylum, Australian Broadcasting Corp online reported.
Australia is expected to delay Sirul's deportation until after Malaysia abolishes the death penalty.
Sirul was one of two bodyguards sentenced to death in Malaysia in 2015 over the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu. Sirul fled to Australia in 2014 while on bail.
Altantuya had worked as a translator on a US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion) Malaysian deal to buy French submarines. The deal was mired in allegations of bribery and kickbacks.
She had also been having an affair with Abdul Baginda Razak, a close confidante of Mr Najib, who was at the time Malaysia's deputy prime minister.
Sirul and the other bodyguard, Azilah Hadri, were found to have shot Ms Altantuya several times in the head in a patch of jungle outside Kuala Lumpur in 2006.
They then blew up her body with military grade explosives.
Azilah is now in jail in Malaysia, but Sirul, a former police corporal, maintains his innocence. He says he was ordered by his superiors to carry out the killing and has never said who wanted Altantuya killed or why.
Altantuya's family is hoping Sirul's return will shed light on who ordered her killing.
Last month, Altantuya's father launched a civil case against the two Malaysian bodyguards, her former lover, and the Malaysian Government.
It has long been speculated that 28-year-old Altantuya was killed to stop her exposing the bribes allegedly paid during the submarine sale to close confidantes of Mr Najib.
Sirul has been in Sydney's Villawood detention centre for more than four years.
ABC quoted a Malaysian associate of Sirul's living in Australia - who does not want to be named - who said he took his case for political asylum to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Sydney.
"He wants to be released into the Australian society, released from detention, so that he could go into the Australian society and live, because he said that his crime was a political crime," ABC quoted the associate as saying.
The tribunal rejected Sirul's initial claim, and an appeal on Monday, on the grounds it was not a political crime.
It found no suggestion "that a state-ordered assassination would amount to a political crime", ABC said.
THE STRAITS TIMES