Malaysia

Lawyer linked to Bala’s SD dodges questions on controversy

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 – Senior lawyer Tan Sri Cecil Abraham, who has been linked to P. Balasubramaniam’s controversial second statutory declaration (SD) on the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, today deflected questions on his alleged role in preparing the document.

According to Malaysiakini, the lawyer refused to respond to a reporter from the news portal when approached after a court hearing.

“No comment on anything,” Abraham was quoted as saying in the portal’s online article.

Abraham’s son Sunil, was also reportedly approached but maintained silence when posed the same questions.

Last week, the Bar Council said it was investigating the identity of the lawyers and possible misconduct in the drafting of Balasubramaniam’s second SD.

In a statement, Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee reiterated that the organisation had always acted without fear or favour, and in accordance with due process, “regardless of the personalities or circumstances in any matter.”

“The Bar Council will make all necessary enquiries — in this instance, to ascertain the identity of the lawyers concerned and whether they have committed any professional misconduct,” he said.

Carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan had recently admitted he helped in getting Balasubramaniam, a private investigator, to repudiate his earlier statutory declaration on the matter, including getting two lawyers to draft the new statement.

The identities of the two lawyers were never made known as Deepak said they had cold feet before a press conference to publicise the sworn statement.

But former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) adviser, Tan Sri Robert Phang, recently publicly named Abraham as one of those who drafted the document.

Abraham also sits on the graftbuster’s Operations Review Panel (PPO).

The Bar Council, a statutory body regulating the professional conduct of some 14,000 legal practitioners in the country, had been chided for dragging its feet in probing the identity of the mystery lawyer behind Balasubramaniam’s controversial second sworn statement into the 2006 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, despite the number of clues at its disposal.

Lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu, who is acting for the former private detective, had suggested on January 1 the Bar Council “was a little hesitant in investigating this matter”, saying the regulator did not need to wait for more complains and could of its own volition push for an inquiry panel to be set up.

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

A cloud of mystery has been hanging over the identity of the lawyer who had drawn up Balasubramaniam’s second 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.

Americk had previously said M. Arunampalam’s role as the lawyer who had drafted Balasubramaniam’s second SD had been dispelled by well-connected businessman Deepak Jaikishan who is also in the centre of the controversy surrounding Balasubramaniam’s two SDs.

He said Deepak had cleared Arunampalam – whom the carpet dealer had engaged to handle his property transactions previously – as a likely candidate for drafting the second SD.

He also said the clues were all assembled before the Bar Council to act and advised the body to check out lawyers who had previously worked for the politicians named in Balasubramaniam’s SD to question them in an inquiry.

He pointed that only a handful of lawyers would have access to a prominent personality that had been named in Balasubramaniam’s SDs out of the 14,000 members of the Malaysian Bar.

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