Friday July 4, 2008 MYT 7:37:52 PM
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.