Australian officials to appeal surgeon killer's release

Australian officials said Sunday they would appeal a decision to free and deport to Malaysia a man who shot dead one of the country's top heart surgeons, saying he should serve more jail time.

Chiew Seng Liew, 69, was one of two men jailed over the fatal shooting in 1991 of renowned doctor Victor Chang during a failed extortion attempt. He was granted parole Wednesday after serving 21 years of his 26-year sentence.

The New South Wales (NSW) state parole board agreed to free Liew, who has advanced Parkinson's disease, after his lawyers argued that he would soon be unfit to travel and hence be unable to be deported back to Malaysia.

But NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith said the government was seeking an urgent review of the decision because it did not feel Liew had served enough time for Chang's "tragic and senseless" murder.

"I received legal advice that a judicial review of the authority's decision is warranted," Smith said in a statement.

"I believe it is not in the public interest to release him when he has only served one year of his six-year parole period."

Once released from prison Liew would be returned to Malaysia, where Smith said there was no way Australian authorities could enforce his parole conditions, effectively rendering his sentence over.

"It was such a horrendous murder, we think he should serve a much longer term," Smith said.

Liew pulled the trigger on Chang, with the man who provided the gun, Phillip Choon Tee Lim also jailed for murder. Lim was paroled and deported to Malaysia in 2010 after serving 18 years in prison.

Chang earned an international reputation for his pioneering work on heart transplant methods. He was gunned down on a pavement near his Sydney home as he made his way to work, in a killing that shocked the nation.

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