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KUALA LUMPUR: French authorities probing the alleged corruption in the RM4.2 billion Scorpene deal are not looking at the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.
In a blow to human rights organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (Suaram) repeated assertions, officials close to the investigations in Paris have confirmed that its case does not deal with the murder.
This contrasts sharply with Suaram secretariat Cynthia Gabriel’s assertions yesterday at a press conference that the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance was looking into Altantuya's link in the case.
On April 23, Suaram issued a statement saying that the French courts have "now extended its investigations into circumstances that led to her (Altantuya's) death".
During Suaram's breaking of fast event in Petaling Jaya on July 19, ostensibly to raise funds to pay for its Ops Scorpene campaign, Gabriel had stated that two witnesses would be going to Paris in September to testify.
One of them was Americk Sidhu, lawyer of the late private investigator P.I. Bala, while the other is believed to be lawyer Cecil Abraham.
The architect of the RM4.2 billion deal, Jasbir Singh Chahl, was subpoenaed in late September last year as a key witness for the prosecution, and has been in constant communication with the French investigators. In April, he submitted a 274-page deposition to the French.
The NST understands that the French courts' area of interest is purely in the alleged corruption element in the French naval giant DCNS with regard to the submarine purchase.
At yesterday's press conference, Suaram demanded that Jasbir reveal the full details of the procurement, following the NST's expose of the deal.
Suaram claimed that Jasbir had not disclosed in full, details of the purchase, such as his role in closing the deal, his alleged ouster from the negotiations, and why defence analyst Abdul Razak Baginda took over the negotiations.
Suaram pointed out that Jasbir had only last year, vehemently denied his involvement in the controversial deal after it had been exposed that he would be one of the key witnesses to be called before the French tribunal to testify.
Jasbir clarified yesterday that he had only told Gabriel that he had not received the subpoena.
Gabriel also questioned Jasbir's role in Terasasi Sdn Bhd.
"Jasbir is compelled to tell us the exact amounts of money that Terasasi received from French shipbuilders," she said.
Suaram also responded to Jasbir's admission in the NST article that he had never met Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, saying that it came as "no surprise" as he had been pushed out of the deal midway.
Jasbir's statement, however, was corroborated by official French documents that were made available to the NST.
In them, the French police have stated categorically that Altantuya never entered France from 1999 to 2006, the year she died.