M’sia slams bid to undermine case

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia has voiced concerns over what it said was a move by certain parties to use “guerrilla tactics” to subvert the criminal case against Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa set to begin in a Madrid court today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the government was very disturbed by frivolous and vexatious attempts by any party employing various tactics to undermine and disrupt the criminal proceedings against Stampa.

“The recent guerrilla attempts, as observed in the media, is the motion filed on Dec 4, 2023, which is nothing more than the latest charade in the ‘Sulu Fraud’ to subvert the rule of law,” she said in a statement yesterday.

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

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

It is unclear as to the nature of the motion filed by certain parties in the 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 practice of a profession in connection to controversially ordering Malaysia to pay US$14.92bil (RM69.56bil at current rates) to the self-proclaimed heirs of the defunct Sulu Sultanate last year.

Referring to some media reports, Azalina said the Malaysian government has the utmost respect for the Spanish courts and their rulings and categorically refuted 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 reiterated that Malaysia has full confidence in the Spanish judicial system in delivering justice to 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 on 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 US$2.5mil (RM11.7mil) from the alleged Sulu heirs knowingly refused to comply with those orders,” Azalina said.

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

Azalina said the attempt by the “Filipino citizens” (claiming to be heirs of Sulu Sultanate) 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 is protected and upheld at all times,” she added.

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