Scorpene briefing: Elements of Altantuya case important

Anisah Shukry | November 27, 2012
French lawyer Apoline Cagnat says that the French judge involved in the Scorpene probe will also look into the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
PETALING JAYA: Elements of the murder case of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu are important in the ongoing French probe into the multi-billion purchase of Scorpene submarines.
Lawyer Apoline Cagnat, who represents human rights organisation Suaram, told this to reporters via Skype after conducting a briefing on the Scorpene probe in Singapore today.
“The judge is not investigating the murder of Altantuya, but rather the purchase of the two Scorpene submarines,” she said.
“However, elements of the murder case will be important to them and they will look into it.”
According to a tweet by Batu MP Tian Chua, who was present at the briefing, Cagnat told the parliamentarians that the French judge has requested to obtain the Altantuya trial record as part of the investigation.
Suaram has previously claimed that French defence company DCNS paid bribery amounting to 114 million euros to Abdul Razak Baginda’s company, Perimekar, in the purchase of the submarines.
Altantuya, who was Abdul Razak’s one-time lover, was said to have helped him and was later killed and blown up with C4 explosives in 2006, allegedly for asking a part of the bribe.
Abdul Razak was charged in abetting in her murder, but was acquitted by the High Court in 2008 on the basis that there was no prima facie case against him.
The purchase was made while Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak headed the defence ministry, and he has since been linked to her murder despite his vehement denials.
When asked today what part the prime minister played in Altantuya’s death, Cagnat refused to comment, citing confidentiality.
“But we believe that the prime minister and Razak Baginda at some point will be served subpoenas. But the judges need to gather a lot of proof so it is not something that will happen in a few weeks,” she said.
‘Arrest warrant would be issued’
She said that in the next few months to come, the judge would be subpoenaing all seven witnesses listed by Suaram to come and testify in France.
Lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, who was also present at the briefing, tweeted Cagnat had told parliamentarians if the witnesses did not comply, an arrest warrant would be issued.
Aside from Najib and Abdul Razak, the witnesses in the inquiry are Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi; Setev Shaariibuu, the father of Altantuya; private investigator P Balasubramaniam; Bousted Holdings Bhd group managing director and deputy chairperson Lodin Wok Kamaruddin; and Jasbir Singh Chahl, said to be Razak’s right-hand man.
The briefing today was supposed to be held in Parliament, but was eventually moved to Hotel Changi, in Singapore, after Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia refused to approve the French lawyers’ presence in the Parliament.
Pandikar Amin said the decision was made after he received official objection from the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) in order to safeguard the sovereignty and reputation of Parliament.
“Even if, as claimed, that there is new evidence which must be briefed… to the MPs, in my opinion, it is still allegations that have political elements that are not bipartisan,” wrote Pandikar.
In April this year, the Tribunal de Grand Instance in Paris began its inquiry into Suaram’s claim that French naval firm DCNS had paid some RM452 million as a bribe to Malaysian officials to obtain a contract for two submarines.
Suaram had filed the complaint with the French courts in 2009.

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