Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scorpene deal heads for French court

Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (Suaram) suit in a French court over the controversial Scorpene deal will soon enter the full trial stage, which could see top government officials, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, being asked to testify.

Suaram leaders told a press conference today that its December 2009 suit against DCNS, the French makers of the Scorpene submarine, was nearing the end of its inquiry stage and its lawyers in France were confident they had enough evidence to move into full trial.

Cynthia Gabriel, a Suaram director, announced that an application had already been filed in March this year to a French court for an instruction judge and if evidence was sufficient, the case would be brought for trial in open court.

She said this meant that top Malaysian officials, particularly the Defence Ministry and those involved in the 2002 procurement, said to cost RM6.7 billion, could be summoned as witnesses in the trial.

In a statement yesterday, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi said he was prepared to testify in court, provided that Cabinet gives him the green light to do so.

Gabriel also noted today that the case could open up a can of worms as it could shed more light on the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaaribuu.

The gruesome murder in 2006 has been often linked by the opposition and critics of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to the multibillion ringgit Scorpene deal.

Altantuya was the jilted lover of Abdul Razak Baginda, a shareholder of Perimekar Sdn Bhd which was directly involved in the procurement of the submarines.

Abdul Razak is also the close associate of Najib (picture), who was Defence Minister at the time.
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