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Breakthrough in Scorpene probe

 | February 7, 2013

Suaram says a key negotiator has agreed to testify.

PETALING JAYA: The French probe into Malaysia’s purchase of two Scorpene submarines has taken a leap forward with a key witness agreeing to assist the investigators, according to the human rights organisation Suaram.

Suaram secretariat member Cynthia Gabriel told FMT that the witness, whom she described as “the key negotiator” in the purchase, offered his co-operation after receiving a second subpoena notice last month.

Suaram filed a complaint with the French authorities in 2009, saying it suspected that corruption was involved in the deal.

Gabriel said the witness was “in a very important position” to shed light on what transpired during negotiations for the purchase.

However, she added, the French had yet to fix a date for him to testify.

Last November, Suaram’s lawyer, Apoline Cagnat, said the French judges investigating the case would subpoena seven witnesses, namely Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Najib confidante Abdul Razak Baginda, private investigator P Balasubramaniam, Bousted Holdings managing director Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, Mongolian national Setev Shaariibuu and Jasbir Singh Chahl, who is said to be Abdul Razak’s right-hand man.

Shaariibuu is the father of Altantuya, the slain mistress of Abdul Razak. News reports have alleged that she served as a translator in the negotiations.

Gabriel said today that the French had pared down the list to three witnesses, including Najib and Abdul Razak.

The Tribunal de Grand Instance in Paris began its inquiry in April last year over Suaram’s claim that French naval firm DCNS had paid some RM452 million as a bribe to Malaysian officials to obtain a contract for the two submarines.

The purchase was made when Najib was defence minister and the case is linked to Altantuya’s murder.

Gabriel also said Suaram recently proposed that businessman Deepak Jaikishan be considered as witness.

Deepak has been in the media limelight since December, when he began making a series of public statements linking Najib’s family to the Altantuya murder.

Gabriel also said the French judges were in the midst of receiving records of the trial of the two policemen found guilty of the murder.


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