Friday 22 July 2011

Lawyer Bourdon detained at KLIA, to be deported

French lawyer William Bourdon, who was in Penang last night to speak about the controversial Scorpene submarines deal allegedly involving millions of ringgit in kickbacks to Malaysian government officials, was detained at the KL International Airport this morning.

NONEIt is understood that he will put on a plane bound for Paris at about 11.30 tonight.

“Everything is okay. I am so sorry to leave my friends; we fly tonight for Paris. Keep in touch, take care and have courage,” said Bourdon in an email message. 

According to Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel, immigration officials boarded the aircraft and detained Bourdon soon after their plane touched down at KLIA in Sepang this morning.

"He was immediately taken to the immigration holding centre at KLIA," Gabriel told Malaysiakini.
The immigration officers had initially disallowed Bourdon's wife Lia Foriester, also a lawyer, to accompany him to the holding centre.

Following some negotiations, she was eventually allowed to do so.
According to Gabriel, the officers wanted to "question" Bourdon.
NONEGabriel (centre in photo) said Bourdon told her over the phone after four hours of detention that the deportation process was under way.

Bourdon arrived yesterday but did not go through KLIA immigration as he was on transit to Penang.
The 55-year-old French lawyer was due to speak at a fund-raising dinner in Petaling Jaya tonight and at another dinner in Ipoh tomorrow.

At a packed dinner in Penang last night to raise funds for the pending Scorpene trial in France, in which the NGO Suaram is involved, Bourdon said the case would also expose details of secret meetings of those involved.

He said those beneficiaries and kickbacks from the RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal would be exposed when the matter is raised at the French corruption trial against defence giant DCNS.

Four men boarded the plane 

At a hastily called press conference at KLIA, Gabriel - who had flown in from Penang with Bourdon and his wife - recounted how four uniformed individuals boarded their plane and detained Bourdon.

NONE"We touched down at 11.40am from Penang, and immediately three immigration officers entered the plane and detained him. There was also another officer in a green uniform, who I believe to be with the auxiliary police.

"They then took him to the immigration holding centre, but they stopped me from entering. They were shouting 'jangan ikut, jangan ikut' while holding up their hands," she said.

Gabriel slammed the authorities for taking such "arbitrary and irrational" action in detaining Bourdon while he was still on the plane, calling it a hallmark of a government "moving towards a full dictatorship".

Fadiah Nadwa Fitri of Lawyers for Liberty pointed out that it would be very difficult to challenge Bourdon's detention, even if the authorities did not give any grounds for it, as the Immigration Act allowed them far-reaching powers to act.

"Under the Act, they have the power to stop him, deny him entry and deport him with no obligation to explain why.

"But where is the due process? If you infringe someone's right to freedom of movement, then at least tell them why," Fadiah said.

Why is the government so afraid?

She explained that Bourdon's detention was based on Section 9(a) of the Immigration Act, which gives the director-general powers to prohibit entry and cancel permits of individuals considered prejudicial to the nation, "where he deems to be expedient to do so".

"What is so prejudicial to Bourdon being here? That is the question (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak) should answer," Fadiah said.

Gabriel echoed Fadiah's sentiments, pointing out that the government's action against Bourdon, who was scheduled to fly home on Sunday, would only raise more questions surrounding the controversial submarine deal.

"Why is the government so afraid? This incident only shows that the government really does have something to hide," she said.

ops scorpene dinner 220711 crowdMeanwhile, Suaram project coordinator Sarah Devaraj said their fund-raising dinner in Petaling Jaya tonight will go on as scheduled, despite the absence of Bourdon.

She said they expected at least 700 people to attend the event at the PJ Civic Centre, aimed at raising funds to cover the legal costs of Suaram's court action in France. 

Third commission 

Suaram last year filed the legal case in Paris, with the help of Bourdon, over claims that DCNS paid RM540 million in commission to Perimekar for the purchase of two submarines.

altantuya razak baginda mongolian murder 190607 wifeSuch payments are illegal under French laws. Perimekar is a subsidiary of KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd, of which the major shareholder is Abdul Razak's wife, Mazlinda Makhzan (right).

Bourdon has uncovered another 30 million euros (RM150 million) paid to DCNS' commercial network Thales and another 2.5 million euros (RM7.5 million) to an unknown recipient.

Suaram recently revealed that a third commission, an amount bigger than the earlier two, had been paid to highly placed government officials.

azlanBourdon and his team of lawyers at Sherpa - a not-for-profit organisation he founded in 2001 that focuses on improving legal tools to promote corporate social responsibility - have been providing pro bono services to Suaram thus far.

Active in initiating legal procedures in France against former Serbian and Rwandan leaders suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes, Bourdon also served as legal council for Franco-Chilean families who were victims of the former dictator Augusto Pinochet.

From 1995 to 2000, he was general-secretary of the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR).

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