Monday, July 25, 2011

William Bourdon - arrested & deported with no right to be heard - alleged corruption in submarine deal

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Press Release
Arbitrary detention and deportation contrary to natural justice

The Malaysian Bar, and the public at large, are unable to fathom the cause for the recent detention and subsequent deportation of French lawyer William Bourdon. 

The reason reportedly provided by the Immigration Department – that the lawyer had violated the conditions of his Social Visit Pass – is vague and wholly inadequate.  This obvious imprecision hampers the visitor’s ability to answer the charges levelled against him.

The lack of specificity is antithetical to the principle of natural justice in administrative law, pursuant to which a clear and explicit basis for the deportation should have been furnished to the visitor, in order that he could have defended himself against any allegation.

As enunciated in the then-Supreme Court case of J P Berthelson v Director General of Immigration, Malaysia & Ors [1987] 1 MLJ 134, the rules of natural justice require that a person who will be affected by an administrative body’s decision be afforded an opportunity to be heard.  The affected person possesses a legitimate expectation to defend himself or herself, as it would be unfair to condemn anyone, or to deprive anyone of a right, without hearing what he or she has to say.

The veil surrounding this matter merely cements, in the mind of the public, the perception that the French lawyer’s deportation may have arisen as a result of the talk he had given in Penang the previous evening, relating to alleged corruption in the Malaysian Government’s purchase of submarines from a French company.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Government to justify publicly its grounds for deporting the French lawyer, and to cease such arbitrary detention and deportation.  This incident is another negative mark on the Government’s record on rights and fundamental liberties, which on this occasion involves a foreigner.

Lim Chee Wee
Malaysian Bar
25 July 2011


July 23, 2011 18:53 PM
Zahid Warns Of Action Against Those Twisting Facts On Submarine Purchase

BAGAN DATOH, July 23 (Bernama) -- Legal action will be taken against certain quarters if they continue to twist facts in connection with the purchase of two Scorpene submarines from France.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the ministry had repeatedly clarified the issue and maintained that the purchase was carried out in a transparent manner.

"If Dr Kua (Kia Soong) and SUARAMm (a human rights non-government organisation in Malaysia) can bring a lawyer from France, William Bourdon, to charge the Malaysian government in French court, we can also charge Dr Kua if there are proofs that certain facts have been manipulated," he told reporters after opening the Hilir Perak Sepakat Komuniti 1Malaysia programme here Saturday.

He was commenting on the presence of French lawyer William Bourdon at a briefing in Penang this week, allegedly over a "new" development in the purchase of the two submarines.


Malaysia deports French lawyer for rights group

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—Malaysia deported a French lawyer who spoke about an upcoming corruption trial involving a $1.2 billion submarine deal that opposition leaders have sought to link to Malaysia's prime minister, a human rights group said Saturday.
Malaysian authorities accused William Bourdon of unspecified immigration violations.
Bourdon spoke at a dinner in Malaysia's northern Penang state Thursday about a French court case set for trial in September and had been scheduled to address a similar event in Kuala Lumpur late Saturday.

The case is linked to complaints filed by Malaysian rights group Suaram with a French prosecutor in 2009 alleging corruption in a 114 million euro ($164 million) fee that shipbuilder DCNS paid to Malaysian firm Perimekar Sdn. Bhd. to facilitate a submarine deal.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied any corruption. Najib was defense minister in 2002 when Malaysia ordered two diesel-electric Scorpene attack submarines as part of a naval upgrade. It has since received both the submarines.

Suaram said immigration officials detained Bourdon when he flew from Penang to Kuala Lumpur and put him on a plane to Paris shortly before midnight Saturday.

Bourdon told The Associated Press he was instructed to get a plane ticket home at his own expense. He said he told the officials that he didn't understand the expulsion and that the decision lacks any justification.

"I told them I acted as a lawyer, in full respect of my duties and the rules of my profession, and in respect of international law and national laws," he said in a phone interview before his deportation.

Malaysian Immigration Director General Alias Ahmad said in a statement that Bourdon "violated the terms of his social visit pass." He did not elaborate, and other officials familiar with the matter could not immediately be reached.

In his talk Thursday, Bourdon gave an update about the status of the case, the French judicial system and what to expect from the trial. The Kuala Lumpur dinner event continued Saturday with speeches by Malaysian opposition leaders and a prerecorded video message by Bourdon.

Malaysian defense officials have said the fee was paid to Perimekar for coordination and support services. But critics argued that Perimekar was formed only a few months before the contract was inked, had no track record in submarine services and didn't have the financial ability to support the contract.

Perimekar is owned by the wife of Abdul Razak Baginda, who once was Najib's aide and a close friend.
Abdul Razak was acquitted in 2008 of abetting in the murder of his ex-mistress, a Mongolian woman. He confessed to having an affair with her and said she was blackmailing him. The woman was shot and her body blown up with military-grade explosives in October 2006.

Two policemen were convicted and sentenced to death for murdering the Mongolian. Suaram has said initial investigations by their French lawyers showed the Mongolian worked as a translator for Abdul Razak in the submarine deal.
Associated Press writer Pierre-Antoine Souchard contributed to this report from Paris.

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