LATEST: July 5, 8.05pm, Malaysiakini – Desperately seeking Bala and family – In the latest twist to the scandal, the private investigator’s nephew R Kumaresan today lodged a police report over the disappearance of his uncle, aunt and their children.
See below’s NST report for more details.
From The Star 4 July 2008:
I believe he was coerced, says lawyer Americk
By SHAHANAAZ HABIB and PAUL CHOO
KUALA LUMPUR: Americk Singh Sidhu, the lawyer who had prepared the first statutory declaration for private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, is convinced his client was intimidated to retract his declaration alleging the Deputy Prime Minister had a sexual relationship with Altantuya Shaariibuu.
He believed the private eye had been coerced “by either threats or promises as I can think of no other reason.”
He stressed that his client had made the first sworn declaration voluntarily without duress.
He said he had first met Balasubramaniam two months ago at a restaurant where he was asked by the latter to help draft a formal document on the Altantuya case.
The sworn declaration was made over a period of one-and-half months in several meetings with Balasubramaniam lasting hours, he said.
“I had no reason to doubt that what Balasubramaniam told me was anything other the truth.
“I was under the impression that he was a trustworthy person and what he said was what he perceived with his own senses,” he said Friday evening at a press conference at the PKR headquarters.
Also present was Americk’s counsel Manjit Singh Dhillon and PKR vice-president R. Sivarasa.
On Thursday, Balasubramaniam said the police had omitted vital information about Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s relationship with the murdered Mongolian translator including the fact that she wanted a US$500,000 commission for helping secure a submarine deal in Paris.
The private eye hired by Abdul Razak Baginda also told the press conference on Thursday how after the murder, he had seen an SMS message to Razak purportedly from the deputy Prime Minister telling Razak “I am seeing the IGP at 11am today…matter will be solved…be cool.” Americk said he was shocked that within 24 hours his client had engaged the services of another lawyer and made another statutory declaration swearing that the first one was untrue and that he had been forced to sign it.
“As I am familiar with the character of Mr Bala, having spent hours recording his statement, I am very sceptical that he signed the second statutory declaration of his own free will.”
Americk said after the press conference at PKR’s headquarters on Thursday, he left with Balasubramaniam for his office and noticed a number of calls to the private investigator’s mobile went unanswered.
He said Balasubramaniam told him they were from the police, one of which was from ASP Tonny Lunggan, the investigating officer of the Altantuya murder case.
When Americk told him that it was all right to answer the call, he said Balasubramaniam then spoke to ASP Tonny and the call was very lively and jovial.
He said when Balasubramaniam left his office at 4.45pm, he thought the private eye was going to meet ASP Tonny after 6.30pm for some fish head curry.
“He was in very good spirits when he left. I was also of the impression that ASP Tonny wanted to congratulate him for what he had done,” he said.
On why he did not advise his client about his personal safety, Americk retorted: “He was going to see the police. How much safer can you be?”
When reporters called Americk Friday morning about the second statutory declaration, Americk tried to reach his client but the latter could not be contacted, even up till Friday evening when the press conference was held.
And PKR concurs with Americk’s disbelief.
From The Star:
PKR ‘absolutely surprised’ by Bala’s retraction
By SHAHANAAZ HABIB
KUALA LUMPUR: PKR is “absolutely surprised” that Abdul Razak Baginda’s private investigator P. Balasubramaniam had retracted his first statutory declaration which they insist he made voluntarily.
PKR vice-president R. Sivarasa said the retraction was something serious and called for an independent investigation and a Royal Commission of Inquiry.
He believed Balasubramaniam had been under pressure by “interested parties” to withdraw the first statutory declaration that had been released on Thursday where he alleged that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a sexual relationship with Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, among other things.
Balasubramaniam had also said in his first statutory declaration, that before Razak was arrested for abetting in Altantuya’s murder, he had showed him an SMS purportedly sent by Najib telling him to be cool and that everything would be resolved because he (Najib) was meeting with the Inspector-General of Police at 11am that day.
“Other than his statutory declaration, Bala (Balasubramaniam) spoke openly about it during the press conference (at the PKR headquarters on Thursday). You can tell from his demeanour that he was speaking voluntarily.
“Then he changes overnight. This is very unusual. There are two statutory declarations and the judge in the Altantuya trial needs to decide which one is the truth,” said Sivarasa who is a lawyer by profession.
He said it was obvious that someone or “interested parties” got Balasubramaniam to change his statement, adding that there was a pattern of manipulation in this.
“This has a bearing in criminal justice system,” he said.
Barely 24 hours after his first statutory declaration, Balasubramaniam made a second statutory declaration on Friday stating that his first statutory declaration was made under duress and as such he wished to retract its entire contents.
Sivarasa said he “is absolutely certain” that Balasubramaniam had made the first statutory declaration voluntarily.
“His lawyer Americk (Sidhu) will support that,” he said, adding that it was not PKR that engaged the lawyer for Balasubramaniam.
Sivarasa said that when Balasubramaniam first approached him about the Altantuya murder case, he advised the private investigator to get a lawyer and write down the details independently.
“I only saw the statutory declaration after it was completed,” he said.
At Thursday’s press conference organised by PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim where Balasubramaniam released his first statutory declaration, he was present with his lawyer Americk.
On Friday however, for his second statutory declaration, Balasubramaniam engaged a different lawyer, Arulampalam Mariam Pillai.
Haris Ibrahim’s blog has more text of PKR’s reaction and some ponderage.
Jelas.info compares Balasubramaniam’s demeanor from lawyer Americk’s point of view.
Compare to Malaysiakini report, Was PI intimidated or induced? – Private investigator P Balasubramaniam’s sudden retraction of his allegations against Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak may have been due to intimidation or inducement, claimed PKR vice-president R Sivarasa.
And now Balasubramaniam and his whole family are missing!
From New Straits Times 5 July 2008:
Balasubramaniam in hiding?
RAWANG: All is quiet at the home of private investigator P. Balasubramaniam.
Checks yesterday afternoon revealed there was no one at home, except for two ferocious dogs left inside cages in the porch of the single-storey extensively-renovated terrace house. The dogs were each left with a bowl of water in their cages.
Even the neighbours were in the dark on the whereabouts of Balasubramaniam and his family.
“Normally the family would be here but early yesterday the whole family left in one of their cars.
“No words were spoken when they left, it was as if they were in a hurry,” said a neighbour.
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