A former bodyguard to the Malaysian prime minister who was sentenced to death last week had been living with family members west of Brisbane when he was detained by Australian immigration officials.
Sirul Azhar Umar has now been transferred to the highest security section of Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre.
Sirul Azhar was first taken into custody in Brisbane on Tuesday after an Interpol red alert was issued.
The 43-year-old was sentenced to death in absentia last week for killing 28-year-old Mongolian interpreter and model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
In 2006, the aspiring model was shot twice in a jungle clearing outside Kuala Lumpur and her body blown up with military-grade explosives.
The defence claimed Ms Altantuya was present during sensitive military contract negotiations and was murdered because she knew about alleged kickbacks to high-level government officials.
Sirul Azhar and another former police official, Azilah Hadri, were both part of an elite police unit charged with protecting the Malaysian prime minister.
The pair were first convicted and then acquitted of Ms Altantuya’s murder.
That decision was last week again overturned, marking the latest chapter in a case that has caused a political storm in Malaysia.
Described by some in the country as a fugitive, the detained Sirul Azhar is yet to speak to his family or see his lawyer.
It is understood he had been living with his 19-year-old son and another relative in Ipswich, Queensland, for several months, after entering the country with a valid passport and tourist visa last year.
A young man named Shuk Sz, claiming to be the former police corporal’s son, posted on Facebook: “If I talk to the press, Malaysia will fall.”
“The PM will also fall,” he wrote. The Facebook account has since been deleted.
Sirul Azhar claims he was made a scapegoat for the crime. His Malaysian lawyer Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin told the ABC he would file an application in the country’s highest court to have Sirul Azhar’s murder conviction reviewed.
Mr Kamarul Hisham said he would also oppose any extradition request from Malaysia.
“I have the mandate of my client to take any and every legal means to challenge the extradition,” he said.
“The perennial question seems to be: why would [Sirul Azhar] murder the victim?”
Before her death, Ms Altantuya was in a relationship with Abdul Razak Baginda, a confidante of Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak.
Mr Kamarul Hisham claims key witnesses were never called by the prosecution during the original trial, fuelling speculation of political interference in the case.
“It raises questions as to what really is going on,” he said.
The Australian Attorney-General’s department would not comment on whether they had received an official request for extradition from Malaysia.
But a statement from the department said: “Australia’s extradition legislation does not allow a person to be surrendered to another country for an offence punishable by death unless the country has given Australia an undertaking that the death penalty will not be carried out on the person.”
Malaysian police have been contacted for comment.