Senior MACC lawyer implicated in 2nd SD

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17  –  The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was today dragged into a row over questions surrounding a lawyer on its operations panel who is alleged to have drafted private investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s controversial second sworn statement on the 2006 death of Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim suggested today that a key member of the MACC’s five check-and-balance mechanism responsible for closing the file on the case may have had a direct hand in doing so, fuelling questions on the extent of a possible cover-up into the explosive crime that has put two elite police commandos on death row and sent the private investigator into exile.

The lawyer-turned-politician wrote in his blog that both the Attorney-General and the MACC have “conveniently refused to investigate the allegations made by the private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, who apparently got the information from Abdul Razak Baginda, and whose claims have been corroborated by carpet merchant Deepak Jaikishan”.

He reminded Malaysians that Balasubramaniam ― popularly known as PI Bala ― had made a second statutory declaration (SD) cancelling his first sworn statement made a day earlier that the police had suppressed key evidence.

“This second declaration was prepared by a well-known lawyer whom he did not know. Deepak named this famous lawyer in an interview with Harakah.

“If one probes a little further, one will find that the same famous lawyer sits as a member of the MACC’s operations review panel,” Zaid, a one-time de facto law minister during the Abdullah administration, wrote.

However, he stopped short of naming the lawyer.

“It was this panel that decided there was no evidence to investigate the allegations made by either Bala or Deepak,” Zaid added.

Lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu, who represents the private detective now in hiding, told The Malaysian Insider when contacted that Balasubramaniam had never told him the identity of the lawyer as the latter was unaware of the person’s occupation.

However, he said the identity of the lawyer could be found out easily from the MACC’s website, which lists eight people as members of its Operations Review Panel.

“One of those eight is a lawyer,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

Zaid’s allegation comes on the heels of political activist Haris Ibrahim saying yesterday he will lobby the Bar Council to reveal the identity of the senior lawyer he said had drafted Balasubramaniam’s second SD.

Haris, who no longer practises law, said he will file a request with the council today, citing grounds that the senior lawyer had committed “the gravest of sins” by drafting the statutory declaration (SD) without first consulting Balasubramaniam.

“There is sufficient evidence to allow the Bar Council to investigate this matter. If the council views this as seriously as I do and many other senior lawyers (do), they will get to the bottom of this fiasco once and for all,” Haris told The Malaysian Insider when contacted here.

Haris explained that while in the past the identity of the lawyer behind the SD had remained “mysterious”, it was recently openly revealed by Deepak himself, during his disclosure in an interview with PAS organ Harakah.

During the interview, which was recorded and uploaded by Harakah on its “TVPAS” channel on YouTube, the carpet dealer had let slip the lawyer’s name when explaining his role in the second SD.

But in the 14:39s clip, the name was muted out.

“Still, this means that enough individuals know the identity of this lawyer ― Deepak, PAS TV, and definitely, the editorial team. We can now kick off an investigation and reveal this person,” Haris said.

On the activist’s blog on Friday, Haris detailed his intention to write to the Bar Council and also threatened to reveal the lawyer’s name if his request is not met after 14 days.

He said he knows the identity of the “Tan Sri” lawyer from three independent and reliable sources, and would not hesitate to spill the beans if needed.

Balasubramaniam’s second sworn statement came 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 then, Balasubramaniam, accompanied by lawyer M. Arulampalam, came out to withdraw his first SD, claiming it had been signed under duress.

He then produced a second document, which he claimed later in 2009 had been prepared by another lawyer without his consultation.

Deepak hit the headlines when blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin exposed his role in facilitating the private detective’s second SD to repudiate the first statement.  –  MI