Malaysia welcomes Madrid appellate court's decision to uphold Sulu arbitrator's conviction, says Azalina

PETALING JAYA: The Madrid Court of Appeal has upheld the Madrid Criminal Court judgement of Dec 22, 2023 that Gonzalo Stampa is guilty of contempt of court.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said in its judgement, the Madrid Court of Appeal confirmed that Stampa knowingly and wilfully disobeyed the clear rulings and orders of the Madrid High Court of Justice resulting from the nullification of his appointment as arbitrator.

"Malaysia welcomes this landmark ruling as a momentous victory for the rule of law that will help preserve the sanctity of international arbitration as an alternative form of dispute resolution.

"This confirms Stampa's six-month prison sentence and a one-year ban from practising as an arbitrator," said Azalina in a statement on Saturday (May 18).

"These criminal proceedings started after the Spanish Public Prosecutor's Office and Malaysia accused Stampa of serious criminal contempt and unqualified professional practice, on the grounds that he openly and knowingly disobeyed several binding orders of a Spanish court, specifically the High Court of Justice of Madrid.

Azalina said that on June 29, 2021, the court annulled Stampa's appointment and all his procedural actions after it ruled that Malaysia, as a foreign state, had been improperly summoned to arbitrator appointment proceedings.

"This annulled all his procedural actions in the so-called Sulu case as the court ruled Malaysia be properly summoned and proceedings began for a new arbitrator to be appointed.

"I wish to express my appreciation to the Prime Minister for his steadfast commitment and determination towards protecting the sovereignty of Malaysia at all costs, as well as his undivided support for the Malaysian team fighting these frivolous claims.

"The Madani government of Malaysia will continue to ensure that the sovereignty, security and interest of Malaysia are protected at all times," added Azalina.

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