16 May 2012

French Courts To Call Najib – OnlyAtMalaysia.blogspot.com
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is in a pickle. He has been accused of plotting sexcapades to bring down his arch enemy Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim. His UMNO party has been busily making allegations of immorality and demanding that Anwar resign to spare the country shame.

Yet, it is Najib himself who has and will again put the country in the greatest media spotlight, and regrettably, of the negative sort. It is almost certain that as the main protagonist, he will be called by the French courts to testify over a suspiciously expensive acquisition of 2 Scorpene and one Agosta submarines in 2002.

The Malaysian UMNO leader faces allegations of having received kickbacks, whether directly or indirectly, from French arms-maker DCN.

"Our lawyers have advised us that it could take anything from the next few weeks or the next couple of months until a judge is appointed for the open trial in France," SUARAM director Cynthia Gabriel told a press conference on Monday.

According to Cynthia, SUARAM lawyers had informed them that the inquiry stage by Parisian authorities was nearing an end, and the next move would be the "full trial" stage, where witnesses will be called.

In Malaysia, the 58-year old Najib has leveraged on his ruling party and political connections to cover up the case, even though it also included a full-blown murder case. A 28-year old Mongolian translator, alleged to be his former mistress and the jilted lover of his close friend Razak Baginda, was shot in the head and blown up with military C4 explosives by two of his former bodyguards. From letters she wrote, Altantuya Shaariibuu had come to Kuala Lumpur in 2006 to demand her US$500,000 share of the commission paid by DCNS.

But according to a private investigator hired by Baginda, Najib's wife Rosmah forbade the men to pay her a cent. Baginda has been accused of being Najib's proxy in the kickbacks.

A firm with no track record and connected to him, Perimekar, received a side-deal worth 114 million euros or about RM530 million to service the submarines. Furthermore, the proceedings in France has found out that three commissions instead of one were paid for the sale of submarines.

"In addition to that of 114 million euros, there are two further installments, one paid by DCN to the commercial networks of Thalès, for over 30 million euros, corresponding to "commercial fees" relating to the negotiation and execution of the contract," another SUARAM director Kua Kia Soong had written in a statement.

"This second commission was paid by Thalès to a recipient, who remains unknown, in order to convince the Malaysian government of the need to conduct additional work. The third commission was for 2.5 million euros." It has also been found that Gifen, a company established in Malta, facilitated the "money transfers in this case", and particularly financed the trips of Baginda and Altantuya.

Mystery new link to Najib Last week, Cynthia told Malaysia Chronicle that their lawyers have since received knowledge of a "third person" who travelled frequently with Baginda and Altantuya during the negotiations with DCN. She declined to name the person, but speculation is rife that this was another link to Najib, who had then been the Defense Minister and had directly sanctioned the purchase. The French courts can be expected to demand information from DCN, Najib and Baginda as to whether Altantuya had indeed played a role in the submarines deal. At the very least, the money transfers by Gifen would require an explanation for her role in the deal.

In her murder trial, the Malaysian courts refused to allow any mention of the submarines deal despite the probability of a connection to her death. "The submarine deal was never brought up in court during the murder trial which saw prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge judiciously keeping Najib's name out of the proceedings," said Kua.

"After being acquitted in November 2008 under questionable circumstances of participating in her murder, Razak Baginda left the country for England. The bodyguards were convicted but no motive was ever established for their actions."

Malaysians will faint knowing their PM, few Malaysians expect Najib or Baginda will attend the trial. The French courts have no jurisdiction to force their appearance but it can demand the truth from DCNS.

"If Najib goes, I think Malaysians will faint. But it is very odd when a deal of such a huge size, and the parties involved are giant world conglomerates that a Prime Minister chickens out. If he does that, he has already told the world he is guilty as charged. Malaysians and UMNO itself must demand his immediate resignation," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

SUARAM is Malaysian top human rights activist group. It got into the act after failing to get satisfactory answers from the government. Protest by citizens' groups were similarly ignored and even opposition politicians were stonewalled when they asked 'tough' question of the RM6.7 billion purchase in Parliament.

"SUARAM hopes the French justice system will reveal more than what the Malaysian judicial system has failed to deliver so far and will bring justice and closure to the family of Altantuya, and force the French and Malaysian Governments to account to their peoples regarding the commissions on the submarines contract," said Kua.

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

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