Tuesday 27 November 2012

Altantuya murder trial notes for Scorpene inquiry?

A French lawyer representing human rights NGO Suaram said the French judges probing the Scorpene scandal would have no choice but to incorporate the murder trial of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu into their inquiry.

NONE“We don't see how it would go the other way... They would obviously look into it,” said Apoline Cagnat (middle in photo), at a briefing for Malaysian parliamentarians in Singapore today.

While Altantuya’s murder is not the most critical element of the investigation - which focuses on alleged payment of commission in the procurement of two Scorpene-class submarines by Malaysia - it is one of the key aspects, Cagnat said.

As such, she believes the two investigating judges will request the notes of proceedings of the murder trial, in which two security personnel were convicted for Altantuya’s murder.

On the status of the Scorpene inquiry, Cagnat said investigations are still in progress.
azlanShe said she hopes that more subpoenas will be issued to witnesses - alongside a formal request to the Malaysian government to provide information on the deal - will be issued by the judges in the coming months.

Asked what has happened to the first subpoena purportedly issued to Jasbir Singh Chahl - said to be the point-man in the procurement of the submarines - Cagnat refused to comment.

She explained that she is barred by French law from revealing details of the investigation.

However, Suaram secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel, who hosted the briefing, disclosed that a second subpoena "is in the process" of beign served on Jasbir since he did not respond to the first.

Jasbir had denied receiving any such subpoena.

Long time-frame for outcome 

During the question-and-answer session with the Malaysian MPs present, Cagnat conceded that it may take anything between two and 10 years for the outcome of the inquiry to be known.

NONE"I cannot give a time frame. The more complex the case, the longer they (investigating judges) need," she said.

"It takes time because it is international. It takes time for other countries to react (to the inquiry)."

She cited a similar defence procurement case involving the Pakistan government and French defence contractor DCNS has taken more than 10 years to date, and is still underway.

Cagnat handled that scandal which involved the deaths of 11 engineers in an explosion at Karachi.

DCNS is the company that also sold the Scorpene-class submarines to Malaysia.

The French legal team, led by prominent human rights lawyer William Bourdon, had initially been invited by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to brief parliamentarians in Malaysia on the probe.

Planned to be held at Parliament House, it was moved to a hotel in Singapore after the Malaysian government failed to provide a guarantee of security to the French lawyers.

Bourdon had been deported when he was in Malaysia last year to work on the case.

Only Cagnat was present at the two-hour briefing today.

TNONEhose present included seven opposition MPs, Suaram directors Cynthia and Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, as well as reporters from Malaysia and Singapore.

The lawmakers were Batu MP Tian Chua (standing in photo), Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, Kuala Krai MP Hatta Ramli, Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo-Burne, Subang MP R Sivarasa and Teluk Kemang MP Kamarul Baharin Abbas.

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