Waiting in Switzerland with her young toddler for her husband’s release from jail in Thailand has been a daily agony for Laura Justo.
“Every day is so hard. I have so little news, just from my lawyer and a few friends who can visit. I can receive no phone calls from him and no letters are allowed. I worry about his safety and his health and whether he will ever come back”
she told Sarawak Report today after weeks of self-imposed silence, hoping for official channels to bring her husband back.
Earlier this year she fled the country, after being threatened by agents of Justo’s former employers at the company PetroSaudi that she too could face arrest in Thailand as “an accessory” if she went public about their threats and blackmail, which caused her husband to sign a false confession putting him in jail.
She has not been able to see or speak to Xavier since:
“Thankfully, I have heard that recently his conditions have been substantially improved, possibly because of the news that has come out about his innocence. I think the Thais now realise how everyone was played in this situation”
In late July and from the safety of Geneva Laura had at last spoken out about the pressures on her husband.
Sarawak Report and the UK Guardian newspaper published the Justos’ shocking story, detailing PetroSaudi’s extensive conspiracy to jail Xavier and discredit him along with Sarawak Report, which had published data on the company’s criminal thefts from Malaysia’s 1MDB development fund.
The evidence shows that PetroSaudi were working together with their joint venture partner from 1MDB, the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in this bid to silence Justo. Extensive documentation also confirms PetroSaudi’s illegal interferences in her husband’s case in Thailand.
Having set the record straight Laura has pleaded for action from the Swiss and Thai authorities to righten the situation, given the international authorities were by then already alerted to the criminal thefts from 1MDB thanks to the whistleblowing data on PetroSaudi passed to regulators by her husband.
“I thought after that I would see some justice. I received very positive responses and support from official quarters in Switzerland and Thailand and my lawyers have confirmed that under the established bi-lateral agreements would have normally been transferred by this stage in his sentence to serve the rest of it in his home country, where our son and I can safely visit him” Laura told Sarawak Report.
Justo has only seen his new baby son once since being jailed 15 months ago. The first positive move came from Thailand where Justo’s sentence was officially reduced by one third thanks to a Royal Pardon in August.
However, despite promises that transfer papers would be signed by the end of last month, to allow Justo to serve the rest of his sentence in his home country, Laura has been alarmed by a series of sudden and unexpected delays.
Earlier this week a planned meeting that should have confirmed an agreed transfer date did not deal with Xavier’s case after all. This is despite the fact that Justo has already now passed the normal period of his sentence that needs to be served in Thailand according to conventions signs between the two countries.
Now, Laura says the matter has been delayed still further and the uncertainty and broken promises have become too hard to bear.
“If he was any normal prisoner he would have been transferred by now, so what is happening here. I think this is political interference for personal reasons”
She is now alarmed that Prime Minister Najib is about to make an official visit to Thailand for the second time in just one month. The visit due to take place on September 8th & 9th.
“I fear he will put my husband onto the negotiating agenda as a bargaining tool in bi-lateral negotiations, where he does not belong”
Laura told Sarawak Report.
Those issues are pressing for Thailand, which has suffered a number of separatist and extremist attacks, believed to involve terrorists who are harbouring in neighbouring Malaysia. The Thais are demanding fuller cooperation and joint security measures from its neighbour and Laura believes Najib could seek the continuing imprisonment of Justo in return.
In recordings obtained by Sarawak Report PetroSaudi director Patrick Mahony described the Prime Minister’s “worst nightmare” was to see Justo released from Thailand as a key ‘witness’ over 1MDB. Najib is fighting a rearguard action in Malaysia to deny that the DOJ indictment over 1MDB has anything to do with him.
Laura says these political issues have no place interfering with her husband’s rights as a prisoner, especially now that it is known that he was tricked and blackmailed into a damning false confession.
According to the standard prisoner exchange agreements, Justo, whose sentence was commuted by the Thais last month by one third, ought by now to have been transferred back to Switzerland, and would soon be eligible for parole.
“The Thai authorities seem to be dragging their feet and I think it is because they are under huge pressure from Malaysia. The Thais should not give in to unacceptable demands from Najib Razak or how can foreigners feel safe visiting their country?” said Laura.
Najib has form when it comes to inserting his personal issues over 1MDB into bi-lateral negotiations with other countries.
At the time his bank accounts were frozen in Singapore last year, owing to investigations over 1MDB the Prime Minister made several visits with his wife, which insiders said involved attempts to bargain delaying action on the case.
There are also concerns that BN’s foreign policy involves currying favour with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi (also angry over 1MDB) by sending Malaysian soldiers to fight their battles in the deserts of the Middle East….
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