KOTA KINABALU, Jan 9 — Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor thanked de facto law minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and the federal government today for the legal action that led to the conviction of Spanish arbitrator Gonzalo Stampa.
Hajiji said that the Spanish courts’ decision to sentence Stampa to six months’ jail for contempt proved his decision to award the self-proclaimed Sulu sultanate heirs US$14.9 billion (RM69.2 billion) was against procedure.
“We are very thankful to Datuk Azalina and the federal government because now it is proven that the claims from the so-called heirs were completely baseless. This shows there were elements of profiteering and so on,” he said.
“The guilty verdict and subsequent jailing shows that his judgement was baseless. So we in Sabah are very happy to hear that,” he added.
Hajiji said he hopes there will be no one else seeking to stake a claim on Sabah after Stampa’s conviction.
A Spanish court found Stampa guilty of contempt yesterday.
He was sentenced to six months imprisonment and banned from practising as an arbitrator for a year.
Stampa was charged with “unqualified professional practice” after controversially ordering Malaysia to pay US$14.92 billion to the self-proclaimed heirs of the so-called Sulu sultanate.
Azalina had previously said that it was believed that the Sulu heirs’ claim against Malaysia for compensation over land in Sabah would come to an end if Stampa were to be convicted.
In 2021, the Madrid High Court of Justice had annulled or cancelled its initial 2019 appointment of Stampa as the arbitrator in the Sulu claimants’ case against Malaysia.
The Madrid court said Stampa should have followed the Spanish court’s order instead of carrying out “unethical and unprofessional” conduct by moving the arbitration proceedings to France before ordering Malaysia to pay US$14.9 billion to the Sulu claimants.