Spanish court yet to set date to deliver verdict in Stampa trial, says Azalina

PETALING JAYA: The Madrid Criminal Court has not set a date to deliver its verdict in the trial against Dr Gonzalo Stampa, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) said she hoped the decision would state that Stampa's position as an arbitrator was not legal.

"Stampa being convicted in his own country will put an end – not only to the (so-called) Sulu sultanate claims but also bring justice to Malaysia.

"Other countries in the world appreciate what Malaysia is doing so no rogue arbitrator can fraudulently award (damages) by trying to enforce an order against a sovereign, legitimate state," she said.

Azalina said that Stampa wilfully ignored the orders of the Madrid High Court of Justice and changed the seat of the purported arbitration from Madrid to Paris at the request of the Filipino citizens (who are the so-called Sulu heirs) to evade the oversight of Spanish courts.

"Notably, before delivering his (decision on the) 'final award' against Malaysia and as evidenced by documents seen by the court, Stampa collected more than US$2.5mil (RM11.71mil) in 'fees' from Filipino citizens.

"In December 2021, after the unprecedented change of arbitration seat from Spain to France, Malaysia filed a complaint against Stampa with the public prosecutor of Spain.

"In Malaysia's view, he acted in contempt of court by repeatedly disobeying the orders of the Madrid High Court of Justice and continued to 'forum shop' in other jurisdictions," she said on Monday (Dec 11) in an online press conference from Spain.

Azalina said Stampa will not be judged by the Spanish court for acting as an arbitrator, but rather for contempt of court when he disobeyed a direct order from the Madrid High Court of Justice.

On June 29, 2021, the Madrid High Court of Justice issued a judgement, in line with its case law, ruling that as a foreign state, Malaysia had been improperly summoned in arbitrator appointment proceedings.

The court annulled Stampa's appointment, all his procedural actions and ordered that Malaysia be properly summoned and to restart arbitral proceedings.

The annulment of Stampa's appointment was later upheld by the Spanish Constitutional Court after a failed appeal by a few Filipino citizens.

Stampa was a Spanish arbitrator involved in a legal case concerning Malaysia and the Sulu sultanate 'heirs'.

The outcome of this case is significant for Malaysia as it could potentially annul all decisions made by Stampa.

The case against Stampa is seen as an important step in addressing what the Malaysian government considers to be fraudulent and baseless claims against the country by the so-called Sulu sultanate heirs.

The case is closely followed in Malaysia and has implications for the country's sovereignty and legal standing in international arbitration.

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