Scorpene scandal: Najib looking at red notice

Suaram’s privileged access to confidential documents also reveals roles played by a person said to be close to Daim Zainuddin.

(Free Malaysia Today) – 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.

Legal obligations

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.