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A Perth businessman faces the prospect of being sent to the gallows after he was charged this week with murdering a Malaysian woman in 2006.

Malaysian-born Shahril Jaafar is a permanent Australian resident and has travelled between the two countries since 1994 while working for his father Jamaludin's opal and meteorite business.

The Jaafar family settled in Canning Vale but have also sold opals from various shops in the city.

Mr Jaafar's parents and siblings were unable to be contacted yesterday after he appeared in Malaysia's Sungai Petani Magistrate's Court on Tuesday charged with the murder of snack food marketing executive Chee Gaik Yap in January 2006.

Ms Yap, who was 25, was a business graduate from Universiti Utara Malaysia and was jogging with her younger sister when she was abducted.

Her semi-nude body was found nine hours later and her head was almost severed.

Police will allege she was murdered at a place called Kelab Cinta Sayang.

Mr Jaafar, 31, was arrested two weeks ago when he arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on a flight from Perth.

He was charged with murder in court on Tuesday. If convicted, the mandatory sentence is death.

On Mr Jaafar's arrest, State Criminal Investigation Department chief assistant commissioner Zakaria Ahmad told local newspapers that authorities had been keeping tabs on Mr Jaafar for some time.

"We never closed the investigation file for the case," he said. "In fact, we had been updating new leads for the case every two weeks since the murder.

"The police have been working closely with our counterparts in other countries to locate the suspect."

It is understood police took DNA samples from several people during their investigation, including Mr Jaafar.

Jamaludin Jaafar is an entrepreneur who has been afforded the title of "Datuk" in Malaysia, which describes prominent people.

His wife Datin Norbariah Ibrahim and their children, including Shahril Jaafar, have all been involved in opal and meteorite businesses.

Magistrate Raja Shahril Anuar Raja Baniamin remanded Mr Jaafar in custody to appear in the same court on March 11.

The West Australian

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