Malaysia submarine scandal: Human rights group files civil case in France
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Malaysia submarine scandal: Human rights group files civil case in France

Malaysian human rights group, Suaram, has filed a complaint with a civil court in Paris over a multi-million Scorpene submarine deal involving the Malaysian government. According to the Malaysian Insider, Suaram filed the complaint despite knowing that the French would have no power to act against Malaysians outside of Europe as it has no mutual legal assistance treaty.

“We are aware that the government may evade the court process, however, we believe that there is a still possibility for us to uncover the truth, as there are other witnesses who will come forward to testify,” Suaram activist and lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri was quoted as saying.

In Suaram’s complaint to French officials, it accused the Malaysian government of failing to address serious allegations of multi-million ringgit kickbacks involving high-ranking government officials.

Suaram activist Fadiah said the human rights group chose to file a complaint in France as it was left with no redress with authorities here. “(It is) an opportunity for Suaram and Malaysian taxpayers to seek the truth based on the investigation done on both French and Malaysian side. Only through this inquiry all facts will be unravelled in the court of law for Malaysian taxpayers to answers as to what actually transpired,” Fadiah was quoted as saying.

In early April, Asia Sentinel reported that French investigating magistrates were probing the US$1.2 billion sale of submarines to the Malaysian Defense Ministry, with investigators believing that at least some of the money funneled through a Hong Kong-registered company, Terasasi (Hong Kong) Ltd, went into the pocket of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The report said according to the Hong Kong Companies Registry, the company’s directors are Abdul Razak Baginda- Najib Razak’s former aide that was recently acquitted of the murder of a Mongolian actress named Altantuya Shaariibuu, believed to be Baginda’s former lover- and Baginda’s father, Abdul Malim Baginda.

Baginda was charged with abetting her murder, which is speculated to have occurred after she blackmailed him over the information she had from being a translator for him in France. However, French investigators were not linking her death to the submarine purchase scandal, Asia Sentinel said.

Opposition lawmaker Chua Tian Chang said Abdul Razak is believed to have been asked to testify in an ongoing French probe at the Tribunal Grande instance de Paris. According to him, the French court had asked for Abdul Razak’s address as it wants to subpoena him as a witness in the trial.

The Prime Minister had declined to comment when he was asked whether he would attend the enquiry by French courts if subpoenaed. “I don’t need to comment…I don’t want to comment, thank you,” he was quoted as saying recently.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers have also linked a letter allegedly penned by a prominent lawyer Dr Muhammad Shafee Abdullah to the Scorpene submarine case. Shafee has allegedly written a letter addressed to the Chief Justice requesting to adjourn his cases from Apr 1 to 25, due to a “sensitive legal assignment” abroad allegedly commissioned by Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.