Sulu case: ‘Certain parties’ attempting to disrupt criminal proceedings against Stampa, says Azalina

KOTA KINABALU: Putrajaya has voiced concern over a move by "certain parties" trying to use "guerrilla tactics" to subvert the criminal case against Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa that is set to begin in a Madrid court on Monday (Dec 11).

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said that Malaysia was very concerned "on any frivolous and vexatious" attempts by any parties employing various tactics to undermine and disrupt criminal proceedings against Stampa.

"The recent guerrilla attempts, as observed in the media that the motion filed on Dec 4, 2023, are nothing more than the latest charade in the ‘Sulu Fraud’ to subvert the rule of law," she said in a statement on Sunday (Dec 10).

Describing media reports over an alleged motion filed in connection with Stampa's criminal case, Azalina said that it was a baseless and desperate move ahead of the criminal trial aimed at exerting pressure on the Malaysian government as well as Spanish courts and Public Prosecutor.

"As such, it should be viewed as an additional fraudulent procedural activity. The apparent sole purpose of it is to interfere and deflect from the ongoing criminal proceedings in Spain against Stampa," she said.

It is not clear what the exact motion was filed by certain parties in Madrid Court, but it was widely seen as a legal attempt to deflect or undermine the prosecution's criminal case against Stampa.

The Spanish Public Prosecutor’s Office has accused Stampa of suspected criminal offences and “unqualified professional practice” in connection with controversially ordering Malaysia to pay US$14.92bil to the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate last year.

Regarding some media reports, Azalina said that the "Government of Malaysia has the utmost respect for the Spanish courts and their rulings and categorically refutes any media reports suggesting otherwise.

"Throughout this case, Malaysia has acted in order to preserve its rights as a sovereign state in response to consistent egregious activity from the Filipino citizens and their legal representatives," she said.

She said Malaysia had full confidence in the Spanish judicial system in delivering justice to the 32 million Malaysians.

Azalina said the courts of Spain, France and the Netherlands have already confirmed Malaysia’s overall position concerning the Sulu case and the controversial Purported Final Award issued by Stampa on Feb 28, 2022.

The Spanish High Court had annulled Stampa’s appointment as arbitrator and ordered him to put an end to the proceedings because his only title to act as arbitrator was null.

"Stampa, who collected more than USD2.5 million from the alleged Sulu heirs (financed by a litigation funder, Therium), knowingly refused to comply with those orders," Azalina said.

In June 2023, courts in France and the Netherlands declared that Malaysia never submitted to arbitration and, therefore, the arbitration should have never taken place.

Azalina said that the "Filipino Citizens' (claiming to be heirs of Sulu Sultanate) attempts to enforce Stampa's arbitral awards had failed as courts under these jurisdictions rejected it.

"These court rulings confirm that, since their very inception, the Sulu fraud and the purported arbitration has been nothing more than a well fabricated but completely flawed and baseless extortion attempt on the people of Malaysia.

"Malaysia shall ensure that the sovereignty, security and interest of Malaysia are protected and upheld at all times," she said.

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