KUALA LUMPUR: Convicted killer Sirul Azhar Umar will follow legal advice to stay quiet about the murder case, his lawyer said today, dashing hopes of an explosive planned telephone conversation with Dr Mahathir Mohamad later this month.

Sirul’s lawyer, Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, was reported to have said Sirul would not speak to the media, in order not to prejudice his case with Australian authorities.

Sirul is currently being held at an Australian immigration detention centre after he fled Malaysia on being sentenced to death for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu eight years ago.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was expected to make a telephone call to Sirul later this month after reviving the Altantuya controversy which has been linked to corrupt paybacks in a US$2bn Navy deal for two French-built submarines while Najib was defence minister.

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning had speculated about the efects that such a conversation would have in Malaysia, where Dr Mahathir is now engaged in a struggle to oust Najib as Umno president and prime minister.

However Kamarul was reported as saying said Sirul had been advised not to speak to anyone about the Altantuya murder outside any legal proceedings, because of his position in Australia.

The Herald report had also stated that Sirul’s focus was on being granted political asylum in Australia. Australia may not meet a Malaysian request for extradition as he faces the death penalty, while at the same time as a convicted killer Australia may not be able to release him into the community.

Kamarul noted that Sirul had not mentioned any plans for a conversation with Dr Mahathir, Malay Mail Online reported.

The Herald had speculated that “Mahathir’s protection could provide the move needed to get Sirul out of check in Malaysia’s game of chess”. Dr Mahathir has demanded answer to Sirul’s assertion that he was acting under orders and had been made a scapegoat.

Malay Mail Online said Kamarul spoke to his client today and said Sirul had confirmed that a reporter was present when his mother visited him in March, but he had not given an interview or spoken with the Herald’s reporter, Erik Bagshaw, or to any journalist or reporter on the matter (his case) recently. – Free Malaysia Today

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