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WHAT RAZAK BAGINDA’S INDICTMENT MEANS

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 3 Aug 2017

Although Razak Baginda has not been charged in the French court, it is confirmed that he has been indicted for the following offences on 18 July 2017 : complicity of bribery (‘corruption active’) and acceptance of bribes (‘corruption passive’) AND  “concealment of misuse of company assets”. If the examining judge decides there is a valid case against a suspect, the accused is sent for adversarial trial by jury. The examining judge does not sit on the trial court which tries the case.

What the indictment means is that there is enough strong evidence for the judge to think that he is party to the crimes noted in the above charges. It is likely that Razak Baginda has already been heard by the judge otherwise he couldn’t be officially indicted.

The indictment is a measure severe enough to justify an International arrest warrant. In this case, if Razak Baginda is in Malaysia, he probably won’t be extradited. But if he’s in Great Britain, then there is an agreement and GB could/should extradite Razak Baginda.

SCORPENE SCANDAL RESURFACES, SUARAM VINDICATED

The Scorpene submarines scandal involving suspected commissions paid to Malaysian defence officials in the French submarines sale in 2002 has already led to an indictment issued against the former boss of an international subsidiary of Thales, suspected of having corrupted then Defence Minister and the present Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Bernard Baiocco,  the former president of Thales International Asia (Thint Asia) was indicted before magistrate Roger Le Loire on 15 December 2016 for “active bribery of foreign public officials” including Najib Razak, then Minister of defense, and one of his advisers, Abdul Razak Baginda. The former boss of Thint Asia, together with the Directorate of Naval Construction (DCN) who made the submarines was also indicted for complicity in misuse of corporate assets.

SUARAM’s complaint to the French authorities in November 2009 had started a preliminary inquiry and a judicial investigation opened in Paris in 2012. Searches by the French police at Thales and DCNS offices had led to the seizure of numerous documents. After six long years of investigations, this first indictment of the arms maker shows that SUARAM’s suspicion of commissions paid to Malaysian officials in the Scorpene deal is well founded and we have been vindicated.

The sale of two Scorpene submarines and a sub Marino Agosta to Malaysia was the most expensive military procurement by Malaysia to date, costing nearly five billion ringgit for the hardware plus more than two billion ringgit for the training of operatives and maintenance of the submarines.

The French judges have been examining contracts which they suspect of being used to pay for bribes. One of these, referred to as “C5 commercial engineering” involved payment of 30 million euros by DCNI, a subsidiary of DCN to Thales International Asia, in respect of “selling expenses for export”.

The French judicial investigations also show that another company, Terasasi, whose main shareholder Razak Baginda then adviser to the Defence Minister Najib Razak, was paid almost the same amount for consultations. Investigators suspect these so-called “consultations” to be a front for bribes.

In the investigations, another contract provided for the payment of 114 million euros to the Malaysian  company Perimekar, the main contractor of the Scorpene deal.

All this time, the Malaysian government has not told parliament or the public about the existence of Terasasi (Abdul Razak Baginda’s other company) and that it had a share of the spoils from the purchase of the submarines. The government has only tried to justify the payments to Perimekar. The existence of Terasasi and payments it received only emerged when the French prosecutors’ documents came to light. It is time the Malaysian government reveals the role that Terasasi played in the Scorpene deal.

Murder allegation against Razak Baginda as well

The Scorpene scandal has been fueled by the gruesome murder of Mongolian intermediary, Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. According to the testimony of Razak Baginda’s private investigator, Altantuya was the mistress of Abdul Razak Baginda and she had been harassing him for a portion of the commission that had been promised her. In the cautioned statement by one of the two persons charged for Altantuya’s murder, Sirul Azhar told authorities he and Azilah had been offered RM100,000 to kill the woman who was causing embarrassment for Abdul Razak Baginda.

After the sensational revelation in ‘Murder in Malaysia’ that was telecast by Al Jazeera all over the world in September 2015, I cannot see any alternative but for Razak Baginda to sue Al Jazeera for this very grievous allegation that Sirul has accused Razak of killing Altantuya. If Razak Baginda fails to do so, he will be condemned to live the rest of his life with this murder allegation hanging over his head.

This is a very serious charge indeed and a completely new piece of evidence – if corroborated by Sirul – which promises to bring us closer to the yet unsolved murder of the Mongolian lass Altantuya. Remember Razak Baginda had only been charged with ABETMENT in the murder trial of Altantuya. He managed to be acquitted of this charge but with this new piece of evidence he could face the murder charge itself.

Anomalies in the case

In 2013, Karpal Singh who was representing the father of the murdered victim Altantuya had protested against the fact that the prosecution was dragging its feet on the appeal against the acquittal of two former police commandos for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu. He said the Attorney General’s Chambers could file its petition of appeal and state reasons why the Court of Appeal was wrong when it acquitted the two policemen based on the written grounds of the judgment. There was no need to wait for the entire appeal records to file the petition of appeal.

Chief inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar had walked out free men after the appeal against their High Court convictions were allowed at the Appeal Court. The policemen, formerly with the Special Action Unit (UTK), had been found guilty of murdering Altantuya in 2006. Razak Baginda, who was Altantuya’s lover, was acquitted by the High Court for abetment without his defence being called.

Karpal’s client, Setev Shaariibuu (Altantuya’s father) had filed a RM100-million suit against Abdul Razak, Azilah, Sirul and the government over his daughter’s death. In 2013, Karpal had said the public prosecutor should apply to detain the policemen pending the outcome of the appeal. The subsequent absence of one of the defendants, Sirul from the Federal Court appeal shows how prescient he was and how laggard the prosecution has been in the whole case.

A three-man bench at the Appeal Court, chaired by Datuk Seri Mohamad Apandi Ali had said in their judgment, among other things, the prosecution’s failure to call DSP Musa Safri, a former aide-de-camp of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had weakened the prosecution’s case. There was clearly a mistrial at the High Court where the motive for the murder was not obtained.

Among the “strange” twists to the Altantuya murder case was the sudden removal of the presiding judge before the trial started without giving a plausible explanation to the lawyers, not to mention the head of the prosecution team was changed at the eleventh hour. Finally, defence lawyers for the three accused kept changing with one walking out on the first day of hearing, charging that “third parties” were interfering in his work.

Public doubt, however, worsened after both defence lawyers and prosecutors cut off a witness (Altantuya’s cousin) from testifying further when she revealed that the victim had shown her a photograph of herself, Baginda, then defence minister and “others” having lunch in a Paris restaurant.  The court too did not ask the witness to produce the photograph.

Nothing short of a full inquiry

With the latest indictment of Razak Baginda by the French court, nothing short of a full public inquiry into the Altantuya murder and the motive for her murder will do. This extends beyond the remit of the MACC. This inquiry has to cover the allegations of commissions paid for the purchase of the Scorpene submarines. The prosecution of the case has been tardy from the start, with the failure to establish the motive for Altantuya’s murder being the most questionable of all. Through the case, the labored attempts by both prosecution and defence to obstruct the probe into any involvement of then defence minister were also most bewildering.

Razak Baginda’s affidavit in the trial had also maintained that “Azilah was responsible for the death of about six or more people and he would be able to help” the political analyst. To date, we have had no adequate response by the Malaysian Police to such a shocking revelation and whether a full scale investigation has been launched to find out just who these “six or more” apparently victims of extrajudicial killings are.

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