Wednesday 24 Apr 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 8): Dr Gonzalo Stampa has been found guilty of contempt of court for ignoring a Spanish court ruling to drop an arbitration which saw him awarding a controversial US$14.92 billion (RM69.39 billion) claim to the self-proclaimed Sulu sultanate heirs against the Malaysian government.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who led Malaysia’s legal action in the Sulu claim episode, revealed this in a post on X, where she congratulated “all Malaysians” following the Spanish court's decision.

The "rogue" Spanish arbitrator has been sentenced to six months in prison, together with a ban from practising as an arbitrator for the year, according to Azalina.

“Efforts by the Madani goverment in addressing and putting a stop to the Sulu fraud have not been in vain.

“We persist in the fight for justice, and will continue our efforts to annul the final award,” said Azalina, referring to an ongoing effort by the Malaysian government to nullify Stampa’s US$14.92 billion award that he granted through a Paris court in 2022.

Malaysia is fighting the award in the Paris Court of Appeal, in order to quash any attempts to affect the claim in different jurisdictions around the world.

Stampa first awarded a preliminary award to the eight Philippine citizens claiming to be heirs of the Sulu sultanate back in 2020, which he arbitrated in France after ignoring the Spanish court ruling to drop the case.

The dispute originated from an alleged breach of an 1878 contract for the annual payment of RM5,300 to the Sulu sultanate, in exchange for perpetual sovereign rights over part of what is now known as Sabah.

Malaysia reportedly stopped the payment following an armed incursion in 2013, in Sabah’s east-coast township of Lahad Datu by militants also claiming to be tied to the Sulu sultanate.

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