French lawyers representing Suaram in the human rights group’s suit against defence giant DCNS for alleged corruption involving top Malaysian officials will be coming to the country to brief their client on the case.According to Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel (left), either Joseph Brehem or William Bourdon plan to visit next week to discuss the case involving the RM7.3 billion purchase of two Scorpene-classs submarines by Malaysia in 2002.
The controversial case, which involved the alleged payment of illegal commissions amounting to 114 million euro (RM540 million), was recentlyheard and accepted by investigative judge Roger Le Loire in the Paris Tribunal Grande Instance.
“However, it all depends on whether they are able to enter the country,” Gabriel told Malaysiakini in a telephone interview.
“After all, Bourdon was detained at the KL International Airport last year and deported, after he spoke at a closed-door dinner in Penang,” Gabriel
The Immigration Department had then said that Bourdon – attached to Sherpa, a Paris-based non-profit legal outfit – was deported on July 22 last year for violating the conditions of his visit to Malaysia.
Bourdon (left) denied that he had abused his entry permit as he entered the country on a social visit pass.
This time, Gabriel said the lawyers are applying for a working visa to enter Malaysia despite the immigration requirement that they only require a social visit pass.
The French lawyer who comes, she added, also plans to hold a press conference in Kuala Lumpur to provide an update on the case – if he is allowed to enter the country.
While Gabriel is optimistic about the visit, she said Suaram has an alternative plan should the lawyer be barred from entering the country.
“We might have to go to them instead, but we are hopeful that the Malaysian authorities will grant them their working visa,” she said.
“After all, they are here to meet their client, and we have the right to meet them. There is nothing wrong in this,” she added.
Press conference cancelled
Suaram had planned a press conference at its Kuala Lumpur office today, but it was put off due to “technical matters”.
French court papers recently revealed that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who was defence minister then, had sought US$1 billion (RM3 billion) for local company Perimekar from DCN’s subsidiary DCNI.
Perimekar is owned by Najib’s associate Abdul Razak Baginda, who was acquitted on a charge of abetting in the 2006 murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu without his defence being called.
Najib (right) has refused to comment but had denied involvement in the case, while Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he cannot be summoned to attend the hearing in Paris, reversing his previous offer to testify as a witness.