PI’s sudden retraction ‘fishy’

His statement was fully voluntary, say his ex-lawyers

By Carolyn Hong, The Straits Times

PRIVATE investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s sudden retraction of his allegations linking the Deputy Prime Minister to a Mongolian woman is highly suspicious, his former lawyers said yesterday.

Mr Sivarasa Rasiah, vice-president of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat, dismissed the PI’s claims that he was forced to make the allegations.

However, they have not been able to contact Mr Balasubramaniam since Thursday.

‘We are satisfied that (his earlier statement) was fully voluntary. This leaves us with the inevitable conclusion that something must have happened last night. I would go so far as to say a crime might have happened,’ Mr Sivarasa told The Straits Times yesterday.

Mr Balasubramaniam’s ex-lawyer, Mr Americk Singh Sidhu, also said there was no question of duress or coercion.

The PI, who on Thursday dramatically alleged that Deputy Premier Najib Razak had sexual relations with Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu, said yesterday in a new sworn statement that he was forced to make the allegations. He did not give details of how he was allegedly forced.

He is now represented by a new lawyer.

In his earlier sworn statement, Mr Balasubramaniam claimed to have been told about Mr Najib by the Deputy Premier’s close associate, Abdul Razak Baginda. Abdul Razak had hired him to keep Ms Altantuya away from him.

Abdul Razak and Ms Altantuya were lovers, and she had come to Malaysia in October 2006 to meet him after he broke off the relationship. She was killed around that time.

Abdul Razak is now charged with abetting two Special Action Force policemen with her murder. The trial is pending.

Mr Balasubramaniam’s attempt to link the murder to Mr Najib had stunned Malaysia, especially as it came on the heels of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim being accused by his former aide of sodomy.

The opposition has accused Mr Najib of being behind the sodomy allegation.

Mr Americk told The Straits Times that he first met Mr Balasubramaniam at a pub in an upmarket neighbourhood in Kuala Lumpur about two months ago.

Mr Balasubramaniam told him then about the information that he allegedly had on Mr Najib and Ms Altantuya.

Mr Sivarasa, who later joined them at the pub, suggested that the information be written down in a statutory declaration, or sworn statement.

The PI went to see Mr Americk about two to three weeks later in his office to give him the information.

‘On two or three occasions, he attended my office and voluntarily informed me of the details,’ Mr Americk said.

He kept note of all the information, he said, and wrote it up into a statutory declaration, which was affirmed on July 1. The statement was read back to Mr Balasubramaniam by a Commissioner for Oaths, confirmed as accurate and voluntary before being signed.

‘It is very strange that within 24 hours, he can do a somersault,’ Mr Americk said.

He said the PI had received a few calls from the police, who wanted him to give further statements for the murder case. He said he last saw Mr Balasubramaniam about 5pm on Thursday at his office before dropping him off at the Brickfields police station.

The conflicting statutory declarations have thrown the case into much confusion.

PKR wants an independent investigation into this matter, while police have said they would probe both statutory declarations.

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