Former PetroSaudi International employee Xavier Andre Justo will reportedly be serving the remainder of his three-year jail sentence in Thailand, instead of being handed over to Swiss authorities.
Swiss newspaper Le Temps quoted sources who claimed that the decision was made after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had personally intervened in Justo’s transfer process to Switzerland, during his recent official visit to Bangkok.
This latest move has strained diplomatic ties between Thailand and Switzerland, the report said, indicating that the Swiss would be sending its foreign minister Didier Burkhalter to Bangkok, in order to seek an explanation on the Thai’s decision to continue holding Justo in custody.
“My reading of this decision is that it derives more from political rather than legal considerations.
“I think the Swiss authorities have avoided the worst,” said Christian Lüscher, Justo’s lawyer, as quoted by Le Temps.
According to Le Temps, it appeared that Thailand had yielded to Swiss pressure not to deliver Justo to Malaysia, where his life was purportedly in danger.
At the same time, it was suggested that Thai authorities had also rejected the request by the Swiss authorities for Justo to be transferred to Switzerland, in a compromise move with Malaysia.
“The green light for the transfer of Xavier Justo, by virtue of a bilateral agreement existing between Switzerland and Thailand, was due on 31 August (but) the deadline was extended by two weeks.
“Finally the verdict did not arrive until Friday. Was that owing to it being the day after the departure of Prime Minister Najib Razak after the official visit to Bangkok or coincidence?” asked the report.
It added that the official reason given by Thai authorities was that Justo has less than a year to serve of his total sentence.
Le Temps, meanwhile, further quoted sources who claimed that Najib was accompanied by tycoon Jho Low, one of the individuals named in the United States Department of Justice’s civil suit linked to state-investor 1MDB.
Malaysiakini has contacted the prime minister’s press secretary for response on the matter.
Whistleblower website Sarawak Report today published a translated copy of Le Temp’s report, which was originally in French.
Justo was reported last year to have provided the documents behind the leaks that led to claims of the misappropriation of billions of ringgit from 1MDB.
The Swiss purportedly stole the information from PetroSaudi and he is now serving a three-year jail term in Thailand for attempted extortion and blackmail of his former employer.