KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had attended and even spoke during a law conference in Sydney last week, despite reports that he was on a “sensitive legal assignment” elsewhere for the prime minister and his wife, a source has confirmed with The Malaysian Insider.
According to the source, the prominent Umno lawyer had delivered a talk on terrorism last Friday, the first day of the four-day Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association (CLA) Regional Law Conference at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. This was also suggested in a letter that was sent out after another letter from his firm said he was going for the “sensitive legal assignment” revealed by a PKR lawmaker and confirmed by other lawyers who had cases with Shafee.
“He spoke! First day, second session,” the source said in text messages to The Malaysian Insider.
A check on the CLA’s programme online confirmed that the topic for the second session on Friday was “Rule of Law & the Commonwealth Principles — Terrorism, Emergency Laws & Human Rights.”
Shafee’s name however was not among the two speakers for the topic but the source told The Malaysian Insider that the lawyer slotted in at the “last minute”.
Further checks on the CLA’s website showed that the prominent lawyer was listed, along with his full biodata, among the event’s other invited speakers.
Shafee’s presence at the conference draws further question marks over claims that he had gone on a “sensitive legal assignment” from April 1 to 25 that entails travel across the globe to cities like New York, London, Dubai, Paris and Basel, in Switzerland.
When approached on the matter yesterday, the lawyer dismissed the claims as “utter rubbish” but did not offer a further explanation to resolve the mystery.
The allegation first surfaced when PKR’s Saifuddin Nasution revealed a letter in Parliament on April 17 allegedly penned by Shafee claiming that he had been commissioned by both Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor for the assignment.
The March 23 letter, in which Shafee had allegedly sought to postpone all his cases between April 1 and 25, was addressed to Chief Justice Tan Sri Ariffin Zakaria, Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Md Raus Sharif and Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.
But a second letter, also from Shafee’s office, surfaced the following day, this time claiming that Shafee needed to attend the Sydney law conference from April 18 to 22.
PKR has demanded Najib explain if Shafee’s alleged “secret mission” abroad and asked if it was related to the ongoing Scorpene submarine sale probe by French authorities.
Recent media reports have pinned Najib to the RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal by French authorities, which has also been linked to the brutal murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Altantuya’s alleged one-time lover Abdul Razak Baginda, said to be a close associate of Najib’s, was acquitted of a charge of abetting two Special Action Squad members — Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar — to commit the 2006 murder.
Last week, Altantuya’s father Dr Setev Shaariibuu told a press conference in Petaling Jaya that he had offered himself as a witness in the submarine probe, claiming that his testimony would be able to “connect the dots” between her death and the Scorpene case.