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Friday, July 22, 2011

French lawyer probing Altantuya-linked 'kickbacks' is in town

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:34 AM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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KUALA LUMPUR - French rights lawyer William Bourdon is in town, ready to push local political temperature even higher when he speaks at three events under rights group Suaram's latest project 'Ops Scorpene'.

Bourdon's arrival is part of Suaram's efforts to seek a closure to the murder case of Altantuya Shariibuu, the Mongolian who had an affair with Abdul Razak Baginda, a close aide of Najib Razak, who was found brutally murdered in November 2006.
The trial concluded two years ago with the conviction of two close security personnel whose faces were carefully concealed by the police from media glare up to the last day when they were handed out the death sentence. Questions however remain on the motive of her murder, as well as several claims and counter claims on Najib's alleged personal involvement.

Central to these was the RM7.3 billion purchase of two French 'Scorpene' submarines. It was claimed that Altantuya's murder had to do with unpaid kickbacks owed to her. This, according to a private detective hired by Razak Baginda, was a reason why Altantuya had been hounding Razak at his office in the days leading to her brutal murder.

The purchase contract was signed by the Malaysian government in 2002 with French DCNS and Spanish Navantia, through direct negotiation undertaken by Perimekar, a company linked to Razak Baginda, who left for Britain soon after he was acquitted of the murder charge. This and the fact that Perimekar was only set up in 2001 fanned speculation that it was the middleman to receive kickbacks from Malaysia and France.

On 23 December 2009, Suaram through its networks in France linked up with leading human rights lawyers there to file a complaint with the French judicial system, in the hope that a preliminary investigation could be launched on the submarines sale.

The action was to enable revelation of facts behind the murder of Altantuya, as well as her role in the purchase deal leading to her murder, the motive of which the lengthy murder trial had failed to establish.

In April 2010, Suaram was informed that the courts had accepted the request to investigate the claim of corruption amounting to 114 million Euro from DCNS to Perimekar. A recent report said that money in Perimekar had been transferred to other unknown accounts.
Trial to prise open 'government secrets'

According to Suaram, such a trial would enable access to information, about government contracts involving Perimekar, as well as other information deemed as government secrets.

Suaram said both submarines, named KD Tuanku Abdul Rahman and KD Tun Razak, were now parked at the Sepanggar naval base in Sabah, and as of July last year had yet to undergo the necessary tropical water trial dive.
Meanwhile, Bourdon , who represents Suaram in the impending French trial, will brief the latest developments surrounding the case at a hotel in Penang Thursday evening, to kick off a series of fund-raising events to collect RM100,000 to finance the trial.

On Friday evening, he will share the stage with PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu at the Civic Hall in Petaling Jaya.

This will be followed by an event in Ipoh on Saturday.

Contacted by Harakahdaily, a source in Suaram said the trial could be brought to open court in France as early as next month.

“It will depend on the success of the fund-raising events these few nights to fund the trial," it added.

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