PETALING JAYA: Controversial speaker Zakir Naik has said he is prepared to return to India if the Indian Supreme Court could assure him in writing that he would not be arrested and jailed until he is convicted.
He told theSun that he trusts the Indian judiciary but not the Indian prosecution system. The Indian national was commenting on India’s efforts to extradite him to face money laundering charges in his home country.
“Any rational mind will see that the Indian agencies are not being driven by their duty of solving crime but by their political bosses,” he said.
“There are allegations and complaints against me but there is not a single court verdict against me anywhere in India and the world.”
Zakir’s disciple Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu claimed that the India government’s charges against Zakir are malafide (in bad faith), which is against the rule of law.
“The Indian government had previously asked for but failed to secure a red notice for Zakir’s extradition. This clearly shows that they do not have substantive proof. They will try again if this attempt also fails,” he said.
Hindu rights activist Arunakiri Nathan said the Indian government would not have gone after Zakir without reason.
“We should therefore cooperate with them and have him extradited. We should not jeopardise our bilateral relations just for one person,” he added.
The Indian Enforcement Directorate (IED), the agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crimes in India, sought a non-bailable warrant of arrest against Zakir from a special court in Mumbai on Monday.
A leading newspaper in India, The Hindu, reported yesterday that once the warrant is issued, the IED will seek an Interpol red notice to be served on Malaysian authorities for Zakir’s extradition.
Malaysia is a member of Interpol and has an extradition treaty with India that was signed in 2010.
The special court will have to decide whether to grant the warrant to facilitate Zakir’s attendance at the next hearing of an ongoing trial on June 19 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002.
The warrant will also be the basis for the IED to begin proceedings against Zakir under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act.
The charges are related to more than 1.93 billion rupees (RM115.66 million) from proceeds of crimes in India and overseas, identified by the enforcement agency, The Hindu said.
In the charge sheet, the IED has alleged that Zakir made investments in Dubai, where he is developing high-end bungalows.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has likened Zalkir’s case with Malaysia’s attempt to extradite from Australia Sirul Azhar Umar, who was convicted for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
“We need to know first what will happen to the person who is to be extradited. We asked Australia to send Sirul back but Australia said he would be hanged in Malaysia so they decided not to send him home,” Mahathir said.
“We are also entitled to determine if the person we send back is given fair justice,” he told reporters in Malacca yesterday.
The Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism said it was vital for Malaysia to adhere to international protocols and have Zakir extradited if an Interpol red notice was issued.
Its executive director, Cynthia Gabriel, said this is to avoid the assumption that Malaysia is protecting an alleged criminal.
“It is imperative for us to assist in the investigations. We have no choice but to cooperate because the criminal charges against Zakir Naik are very serious. There is no reason to protect and hide him here,” she told theSun.
She noted that Malaysia was also seeking the extradition of fugitive Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, so the country should not practise double standards by not sending Zakir back to India.