Malaysia

Bar Council probe to verify misconduct in PI Bala’s SD

By Ida Lim
December 21, 2012
Latest Update: December 21, 2012 10:28 pm

Lim confirmed the probe but declined to elaborate on the investigation. — File picLim confirmed the probe but declined to elaborate on the investigation. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 ― The Bar Council is investigating the possibility of misconduct in the drafting of P. Balasubramaniam’s second statutory declaration on the 2006 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, its president Lim Chee Wee said today.

Lim was asked to comment on a suggestion for the Bar Council to send out an email to all legal practitioners in Malaysia with a request that the lawyer who had drafted the private detective’s second sworn statement identify himself.

“The Bar Council is investigating this matter,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider today.

He declined to reveal further details of the investigation.

“We are investigating whether there’s any misconduct in this matter,” Lim said.

Balasubramaniam’s lawyer, Americk Singh Sidhu, made the suggestion yesterday, following days of controversy over the lawyer’s identity, with some prominent members of the public alleging the person was a lawyer who held the title of “Tan Sri”.

Americk had, in his media statement, called on Lim to “organise a simple email to be sent to all members of the Malaysian Bar requesting that the member(s) responsible for drafting that 2nd SD do the right thing and make themselves known, as it appears innocent parties may be publicly falling victim to the blame game and finger pointing which has emerged since Deepak’s revelations, to which I certainly do not subscribe”.

A cloud of mystery has been hanging over the identity of the lawyer who had drawn up Balasubramaniam’s second statutory declaration (SD), dated a day after his first on July 3, 2008, regarding Altantuya’s 2006 murder, for which two elite police commandos have been convicted and are facing death sentences.

In a harried press conference on July 4, 2008, Balasubramaniam, accompanied by lawyer M. Arulampalam, came out to withdraw his first SD, where he negated the contents of the first statement, claiming it had been signed under duress.

He then produced a second statement, which he claimed later in 2009 had been prepared by another lawyer, whom he did not meet with and who did not consult him when drafting the document.

A former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) adviser, Tan Sri Robert Phang, had publicly named Tan Sri Cecil Abraham, who sits on the graftbuster’s Operations Review Panel (PPO), as the lawyer in question in a news conference yesterday.

Three others have raised the issue publicly – carpet merchant Deepak Jaikishan, former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, and a political activist, Haris Ibrahim.

Deepak, who is also in the centre of the controversy surrounding Balasubramaniam’s two statutory declarations (SDs), recently let slip the name of the lawyer behind the second SD during an interview with PAS organ Harakah.

But when the interview was carried on PAS’s “TVPAS” channel on YouTube, the lawyer’s name was muted out.

Politician Zaid, who was the de facto law minister in the Abdullah administration, had also called for a probe over the allegations that are being raised in the run-up to key national polls.

Haris, a former lawyer, has written in to the Bar Council demanding it investigate the lawyer for misconduct.

But Americk, who said he knew Abraham personally and described him as “someone who possesses such an ingrained sense of dignity, integrity and professionalism”, pointed out there was no concrete evidence to show the latter had drafted Balasubramaniam’s second SD.

Americk stressed that the former private investigator had not met the person who drew up the second statement that he claimed he had been coerced to sign and was clueless as to the person’s identity.

The MACC’s PPO also spoke out on the issue yesterday, saying that Abraham had not been part of the review team that had closed the investigation file on Balasubramaniam’s SD.

“PPO had agreed with the decision by the deputy public prosecutor to stop investigating the case on grounds the main witnesses’ testimonies were not supported by any other witness and the credibility of the main witnesses were disputable.

“PPO wishes to state that one of the panel members, Tan Sri Datuk Cecil Abraham was not present and was not involved in that meeting,” Tan Sri Hadenan Abdul Jalil, chairman of the eight-man MACC operations review panel, said in a media statement.