Justo could be sentenced next week, says lawyer

BANGKOK: Andre Xavier Justo (pic), the Swiss man who blackmailed his former employer PetroSaudi and then tried to sell data which he stole from the company to a group of people whom he said intended to use it to topple Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, could be given a prison sentence in a court in Bangkok as early as next week.

"The date is still not scheduled," Dr Marc Henzelin, a Geneva-based lawyer retained by Justo's wife in Switzerland, said after visiting his client, who is in remand in Thailand, earlier this week.

Justo, 48, was arrested by Thai police at his house in Koh Samui on June 22. He thereafter signed a full confession and, in an interview on July 23 with Singapore's The Straits Times in jail, detailed how he had met a group of buyers in Bangkok and Singapore to sell them the data. He claimed he was not paid the US$2mil (RM8mil) agreed for the transaction.

On July 24, The Edge Media Group's chairman Tong Kooi Ong and publisher Ho Kay Tat confirmed they had agreed to buy the data and had not paid him.

The Swiss national named Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the Britain-based publisher of the Sarawak Report, as the third person involved in the transaction.

"He is pleading guilty, so there will not be a full hearing with witnesses, because the verdict is already done," Dr Henzelin said over the phone from Geneva.

"There will be a hearing which will theoretically take place next week. It is understood from the police that it should take place next week but it may be 10 days. He will be sentenced straight away."

"The fact that he pleads guilty will be a mitigating circumstance. The fact that he collaborated with the police and made confessions will be taken into consideration by the judge. This has to be pleaded by the Thai lawyer and I'm sure he will," Dr Henzelin said.

The lawyer said he had been told that the sentence could range from six months to one-and-a-half years. Under the terms of a treaty between Thailand and Switzerland, if Justo has less than a year to serve, he could be transferred to do the time in Switzerland. But if he had to serve it in Thailand he would accept that, Dr Henzelin said.

Justo was also considering returning the approximately 90GB of stolen data to PetroSaudi, the lawyer said, in the interest of further mitigating his case. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

Sourced from The Star
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