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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Scorpene scandal: ‘Truth to surface soon’

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:36 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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French lawyer William Bourdon says corruption related to the submarine deal will be exposed when a judge is picked in September to hear the case.

GEORGE TOWN: The French investigative judge who will hear the case into the Scorpene submarine scandal will be picked in September and the truth will be exposed, said prominent human rights lawyer William Bourdon.
The Frenchman said he would then have smooth access to scrutinise all documents and interview major witnesses pertaining to the submarine deal between Malaysia and France.
“I would be able to disclose more information on the case and identify those involved,” he said after a speech at Suaram’s fundraiser dubbed “Ops Scorpene” in Bayan Baru here last night.

Suaram filed a case against French naval defence giant DCNS in 2009 over irregularities in the Scorpene deal between Malaysia and France.
Bourdon, who has been providing pro bono services for Suaram in the case, said currently he had limited access to relevant information, documents and witnesses.
Under the French justice system, an investigative judge has the power to perform both as a judge and investigating prosecutor.
All relevant papers on the submarine deal between France and Malaysia are with the court now and only an investigative judge can allow the documents for public access.
Bourdon said when the case goes to open trial, all documents and contracts will be made public and witnesses, including Malaysian officials, can be subpoenaed.
The Scorpene scandal involves commissions amounting to 114.96 million euros (RM574.8 million) paid to Malaysian consulting company Perimekar Sdn Bhd.
A French prosecution probe revealed another 30 million euros (RM150 million) paid to DCNS’ commercial network Thales and another 2.5 million euros (RM7.5 million) paid to an unknown recipient.
Perimekar is a subsidiary of KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd, of which the major shareholder is the wife of Abdul Razak Baginda, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s close confidante who was charged with and acquitted of the murder of translator Altantuya Shariibuu.
Social responsibility
Last night’s dinner kick-started Suaram’s “Ops Scorpene” fundraising events. “Ops Scorpene” is a awareness campaign to pursue the case in French courts as a matter of national interest.
Bourdon and his team of lawyers at Sherpa, a non-profit organisation he founded in 2001, focus on improving legal tools to promote corporate social responsibility.
He specialises in the defence of human rights and victims of crimes against humanity.
Bourdon hinted that the “Ops Scorpene” investigation can take years depending on the access to information, documentation and cooperation to be extended by the Malaysian authorities.
He hopes Paris and Kuala Lumpur would cement close working ties, once the investigative judge had been appointed, to expedite his investigation.
He hopes that the Malaysian authorities would cooperate with his investigations. No matter how long it takes, Bourdon is convinced that the case would finally see the light.
“In the end, the truth will be known and exposed. Justice will prevail,” said Bourdon, who declined to deliberate much about his probe thus far.
Suaram board director Cynthia Gabriel, PKR’s Batu parliamentarian Tian Chua, DAP veteran MP Lim Kit Siang and PAS deputy president Mohamed Sabu all spoke at the dinner last night.

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