Saturday 23 July 2011

Resolve remains firm despite deportation

EXCLUSIVE Despite his surprise detention in Sepang, French lawyer William Bourdon has vowed to continue his mission to expose the truth behind a controversial deal involving the purchase of two Scorpene submarines by the Malaysian government.

The deal inked between the government and French defence giant DCNS has allegedly resulted in kickbacks amounting to millions of ringgit to top Malaysian officials.
According to French law, such kickbacks are illegal and punishable.

NONESpeaking to Malaysiakini about nine hours after his detention at the KL International Airport, Bourdon (left) said his “willingness to serve his clients” remains strong despite being denied entry into the country.

“I would like to tell my friends in Malaysia that I will continue my mission to serve them. I will not give up,” he said.

“I want to tell them to take care and to have courage to continue their fight for justice,” he added.

Bourdon said he was baffled by the government's decision to abruptly deport him as he had not broken any law and has come to the country as a duty to his client Suaram, a local and legitimate human rights NGO.

However, when his plane from Penang touched down at the KLIA at about 11.40am, Immigration officials arrested him and took him to a holding centre at the airport, where he was questioned for several hours about his visit to the country.

“I was asked about what I did in Penang. I told them as I have nothing to hide,” he said.
“I was questioned by three officers who were fairly friendly to me, but who were not able to explain to me properly why I was being detained,” he added.

'Not allowed local legal representation'

Bourdon was upset that he was not allowed to be represented by local lawyers or accompanied by his fiancee, Lea Foriester, during his detention.

“I asked to see my friends, who are local lawyers, but I was not allowed to do so,” he lamented.
When told that that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are flooded with news about his detention, Bourdon expressed gratefulness at the overwhelming support.

Last night, Bourdon spoke to a large crowd at Suaram's fundraising dinner dubbed 'Ops Scorpene' in Penang - the NGO's latest effort to raise funds to pay for legal costs of the case involving the submarines which it filed, via the lawyer, in Paris last year.

During his speech, Bourdon spoke about the RM7.3 billion deal, revealing some details about the beneficiaries of the deal, saying he was determined to expose the corruption related to claims that DCNS paid RM540 million in commission to Perimekar for the purchase of two submarines.

Perimekar is a subsidiary of KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd, of which the major shareholder is Abdul Razak Baginda's wife, Mazlinda Makhzan.

Abdul Razak is a close confidante of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who was then deputy prime minister and defence minister overseeing the procurement of the submarines.

The former was charged with abetting two of Najib's bodyguarded in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006.

Abdul Razak escaped the gallows without his defence being called, while the two police officers are currently appealing their death sentence.

In his probe, 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.

Detention based on Section 9(a) of Immigration Act

Meanwhile, it is learnt 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”.

Initially, Bourdon refused to sign his papers as they were in Bahasa Malaysia, but later he signed the English version of the document.

“I was then told that I would be detained until Sunday as the departure date on my tickets was until then,” he said.

“I looked at the officers, and with a smile, told them that this was surely a joke, a farce,” he quipped.
“Then I told the officers that we would arrange for the earliest possible flight out of the country at our own cost,” he added.

Bourdon then contacted his travel agent in France whom he described as “very professional” in making the arrangement for an earlier flight.

He did not have to wait long and his new flight details came via fax at the Immigration office.
Bourdon regrets that he was unable to attend a similar fund-raising dinner in Petaling Jaya tonight, which proceeded as scheduled despite his absence.

The 56-year-old lawyer told Malaysiakini that he had earlier issued a statement which was read out by Lea (left) - also a lawyer - at the KLIA.
In his statement, Bourdon said he had acted with full respect of his duties and had complied with the country's and international laws.

“I consider this deportation as a breach of my right to freely exercise my profession as a lawyer,” he added.

The veteran lawyer, who spent about 30 years fighting corruption and human rights abuses, said he does not understand why the government has taken this decision to deport him.

“I was not informed about anything and for some time, did not understand what was going on,” he added.

He was deported on a flight to Paris which departed at about 11.30pm tonight.

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