By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — French lawyer Willian Bourdon has been detained at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport after attending a dinner in Penang last night where he briefed the audience on the progress of judicial investigations in France into the controversial RM7 billion Scorpene submarines that Malaysia bought.
Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel, who has been escorting Bourdon during his visit, said immigration officers detained the lawyer in the plane on his landing from Penang just before noon today, and taken to a holding area.
“Immigration officers came into the aircraft to detain him for questioning,” she said in a text message to The Malaysian Insider. “He is now in a holding centre and his wife is separated from him.”
PKR leader and lawyer Latheefa Koya was on her way to the airport to represent Bourdon, and said that “we suspect it has to do with his speech last night”, as Bourdon was yesterday allowed to enter the country with no problems.
The purchase of two submarines from French defence company DCNS in 2004 and 2005 was made when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was still defence minister and a company run by Abdul Razak Baginda, said to be a close aide of the prime minister, was reported to have received a RM500 million commission from the deal.
Human rights groups and opposition parties here also linked the episode to the 2006 murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shariibuu.
Bourdon had arrived here from Penang, where he spoke at a fundraiser organised by rights group Suaram regarding the Scorpene submarine deal.
He is scheduled to speak at a similar event tonight in Petaling Jaya.
In December 2009, Suaram filed a complaint with the French courts asking for access to information regarding government contracts signed with Abdul Razak’s Perimekar Sdn Bhd and other information classified as official secrets in Malaysia.
The French courts accepted the request to investigate claims of graft in the RM500 million payment from DCNS to Perimekar.