French judicial police and investigators interviewed Bala for more than six hours yesterday, according to Tian Chua.
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The interview began at 2.00pm French time (8.00pm Malaysian time) and extended past 5.00pm, well after normal working hours in France, said the parliamentarian, who has been keeping abreast with developments there. Bala was questioned at the National Financial Investigation Division (DNIF) of the Central Directorate of Judicial Police (DCPJ) along Rue des Trois Fontanots in Nanterre.
The probe is believed to focus on the background to a submarine deal.
French interest in the case may be viewed from a larger concern over the state of French politics in recent times. Last Friday, the BBC website carried an analysis ‘How “rotten” is France’s politics?‘
Bala and his lawyer Manjeet Singh are expected to call on a renowned human rights lawyer in France, William Bourdon (right), at 10.00am today. Bourdon, a former Secretary General of the International Federation of Human Rights (1995-2000), is known for taking legal action in France against former Serbian and Rwandan leaders implicated in crimes against humanity. He has also represented Franco-Chilean families who suffered under the oppressive former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. More details on the Human Rights Watch website here. (Update: In the event, they met Joseph Breham, the other French lawyer acting for Suaram.)
… French lawyers William Bourdon, Renaud Semerdjian and Joseph Breham put an end to that when they filed it with Parisian prosecutors on behalf of the Malaysian human rights organization Suaram, which supports good-government causes.
Judges in the Paris Prosecution Office have been probing a wide range of corruption charges involving similar submarine sales and the possibility of bribery and kickbacks to top officials in France, Pakistan and other countries. The Malaysian piece of the puzzle was added in two filings, on Dec. 4, 2009 and Feb. 23 this year….
“Over the past years, serious cases have been investigated in France by judges involving DCN,” lawyer Renaud Semerdjian told Asia Sentinel in a telephone interview. “This is not the first case of this kind that is being investigated. There are others in Pakistan and there are some issues about India. To a certain extent, every time weapons of any kind have been provided, suspicion of violation of the law may be very high.”…
In the current complaint in Paris, the issue revolves around what, if anything, Razak Baginda’s Perimekar company did to deserve €114 million. Zainal Abidin, the deputy defense minister at the time of the sale, told parliament that Perimekar had received the amount – 11 percent of the sale price of the submarines – for “coordination and support services.” The Paris filing alleges that there were neither support nor services.