Suaram's privileged access to confidential documents also reveals roles played by a person said to be close to Daim Zainuddin.
PETALING JAYA: There is a possibility of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being issued an international warrant of arrest if they fail to adhere to French subpoenas to assist in the Scorpene submarine corruption inquiry.
Suaram’s French lawyer Joseph Breham told a press conference in Bangkok today that the French judges hearing the inquiry have discretionary powers to ask the Interpol to issue a red notice (an international warrant of arrest) against witnesses who failed to submit to the French court.
However this would be the last resort to be undertaken to compel witnesses to testify in Paris.
Breham explained that the French court is able to take on several courses of action, in compelling the Malaysian witnesses.
He said that the judges will first issue a subpoena in writing on a witness, and once a subpoena has been issued, the witness is obliged to appear before the courts and to assist the courts in its works.
“If the witness refuses to abide by the subpoena, the court can issue a notice ‘mandate d ‘amener’, compelling the witness to appear before it.
“If the witness fails to oblige, a warrant of arrest may be issued. The warrant of arrest is applicable within the boundaries of the French territory, and may be internationalised, if the judge deems necessary.
“Based on the judges’ discretionary power, they can ask Interpol to issue a red notice i.e an international warrant of arrest,” he added.
He also said that judge Roger Le Loire, one of the two Instruction Judges assigned to oversee the case, had principally accepted Suaram’s list of seven proposed witnesses, including Najib, Zahid Hamidi and Abdul Razak Baginda.
“Judge Le Loire after hearing an elaborate testimony from Suaram, accepted our statement, and promised to proceed with the inquiry with no stone unturned,” said Breham.
He added that on the acceptance of the seven witnesses proposed by Suaram, the French judge had asked for the full details of the persons involved, in order to begin issuing subpoenas as he saw fit.
In a statement issued by Suaram after the press conference in Bangkok, the human rights NGO said that Malaysia has legal obligations under the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to cooperate with other nation states in preventing, investigating and prosecuting offenders of corruption.
It added that state parties are bound to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court and to extradite offenders.
Suaram also said that it has gained full privileged access to the 153 investigation papers from the French Public Prosecutor’s office.
“This is a huge step forward, as many of the details kept confidential are now made accessible to Suaram as the civil plaintiff in the criminal case against the DCNS (French shipbuilding company),” it said.
It said that in one document – named Document 97 – was a note for the French Minister of Defense dated June 2, 1999 related to an interview with the Malaysian Defence Minister and the French-Malaysian diplomatic relationships as far as defense is concerned.
“The note states that pursuant to the major defence contracts between France and Malaysia, there is a requirement that substantial transfer of money has to be channeled to individuals and/or political organisations.
“The note specifically states that apart from individuals, the ruling party (Umno) is the biggest beneficiary. Consultants (company agents) are often used as political network agents to facilitate these monetary transfers and to receive commissions from their mandators,” said Suaram’s statement.
It further said that the note mentioned about Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Noor and Razak Baginda as points of reference for political network, while adding that Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Noor was close to the then Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin and Razak Baginda to the then Defence Minister Najib.
“The note also explains that by early 2001, Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Noor’s influence began to decline following the fall from power of the Minister of Finance, Daim Zainuddin which resulted in the disappearance of Mohd Ibrahim Mohd Noor’s name from Perimekar both as shareholder and director which was later replaced by people of Razak Baginda’s network.
“Razak Baginda eventually becomes the main point of reference for political network to facilitate the money transfer,” added Suaram.
Suaram said the note also pointed out that Razak’s wife was a close friend of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor.
Suaram also said that it was holding its press conference in Bangkok – and not in Kuala Lumpur – following the forced deportation of one of Suaram’s lawyers, William Bourdon, last July when he visited Malaysia to speak about the case.
Suaram’s complaint with the French courts for a judicial review of the Scorpene contract in November 2009 has resulted in the commencement of a judicial inquiry at the Tribunal De Grande Instance in Paris.
The inquiry will probe alleged corruption crimes and illegal bribes involving top officials from both Malaysia and France in the sale of two Scorpene submarines by French shipbuilding company DCNS to the Malaysian Defence Ministry, then helmed by Najib.