Malaysia may seek 'sultan's' extradition

2013-03-07 10:01
Self-proclaimed leader of the Sultanate of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III talks to reporters at his home in Manila. (Jay Directo, AFP)

Self-proclaimed leader of the Sultanate of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III talks to reporters at his home in Manila. (Jay Directo, AFP)

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Felda Sahabat - Malaysia's foreign minister has said the country may seek the extradition of a self-styled Philippine sultan whose followers launched a deadly incursion into eastern Malaysia.

Malaysian forces are currently hunting for the Islamic militants in a remote region of Borneo Island where they landed last month to assert a long-dormant territorial claim in what has become Malaysia's worst security crisis in years.

At least 28 people, mostly militants, have been reported killed.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said Malaysia was considering whether to seek the extradition of Jamalul Kiram III, the claimed heir to the former southern Philippine sultanate of Sulu, if Manila failed to take action.

"The group's leader has made statements that have incited anger and hatred. Does the Philippines have laws to bring him to justice?" Anifah said late on Wednesday on a television talk show.

"If not, maybe we will ask the Philippines to hand him over to us."

"We do not have an extradition treaty with the Philippines but it can be done in the spirit of ASEAN," he said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which the two neighbours are both members.

Additional militants arrive

While the Philippine government has warned Kiram he may have broken domestic laws, an extradition to Malaysia would appear unlikely as it has made no efforts to arrest him.

Kiram and his aides have also been allowed to operate freely from his home in Manila, where he has held daily press conferences and met with the head of a Muslim rebel group that backs his claims to the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Malaysia launched an air and ground attack on Tuesday on an estimated 100-300 Filipino followers of Kiram aimed at crushing a bloody three-week standoff in a region of vast oil-palm plantations in Sabah.

But the assault appears to have failed to destroy the insurgents, and Malaysian security forces continued on Thursday to scour the region amid fears the dangerous militants remained on the loose.

Officials early on Thursday offered no further updates on the clearing operation.

A southern Philippine guerrilla leader has said additional militants have arrived in Sabah to support the Kiram group, but that claim has yet to be confirmed.

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