Swiss blackmailer appeals for suspended jail term

Swiss blackmailer appeals for suspended jail term

Xavier Andre Justo at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court in August (photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Xavier Andre Justo at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court in August (photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Swiss blackmailer Xavier Andre Justo has asked the Appeals Court to order the suspension of the three-year prison term handed down by the Criminal Court in August for the attempted extortion of his former employer, PetroSaudi.

Justo's lawyer Worasit Piriyawiboon filed the appeal on Wednesday.

The Bangkok South Criminal Court on Aug 17 sentenced Justo to three years in prison, without suspension, backdated to his arrest on June 22.

Justo, 49, is a former executive of Petro Saudi International (PSI). He was arrested on Koh Samui island on June 22 for threatening to disclose confidential information obtained from his former employer relating to an alleged corruption case at 1MDB, a state-affiliated firm chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

He demanded PetroSaudi pay him 2.5 million Swiss francs (about 90 million baht). PetroSaudi rejected the demand in 2013.

Mr  Worasit  said the appeal petition argues that Justo should not be penalised under the Criminal Code's Section 338, which carries a 10-year maximum sentence, but under Section 337, about the attempt to blackmail, since there was no real damage done as payment did not occur.

"The maximum under Section 337 is one year in prison,  and with his confession Justo should get the jail term reduced by half. With no previous criminal record, it should then be suspended," said Mr Worasit.

"The alleged documents were not shown in the court, to highlight the extent of the damage to the  concerned parties. Also, the information that was claimed to cause damage was falsified by other people,  not my client," said the lawyer, who had submitted the appeal before the extended deadline this Friday.

He said the appeal also refers to a media conference by former police chief Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang and police spokesman Pol Lt Gen Prawut Thavornsiri on July 16, when they said the information relating to the Justo case had been tampered with to attack the leader of a neighbouring country.

Therefore, the prosecution’s charge should be dismissed, said Mr Worasit.

Critics have claimed Justo's arrest and his confession about the falsification of information was aimed at clearing Mr Najib's name by undermining the creditability of the whistleblower website Sarawak Report and its reports on corruption at state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Worasit said he will seek his client's release on bail, pending the outcome of the appeal, next week.

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