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May 9, 2008

Thank you so much and sorry for letting you down


Raja Petra Kamarudin

malaysiatoday - [...] When I arrived in Sungai Buloh Prison, something happened that put the entire prison on full alert. Sirul and Azilah, who were in the same block as me, Blok Damai, shouted for me to watch my back and that they will get me. I was quickly whisked out of the block. It seems they were angry that the Altantuya murder trial, which had disappeared from the radar screens, has now, again, been given the spotlight. Why should that upset them? Why the need for the Altantuya murder trial to disappear from the radar screens?

I was then assigned to my own cell, cell 8, and was not allowed to come into contact with any of the other prisoners. My cell door was permanently locked and whenever I had to leave my cell they would assign two or three Special Forces personnel, UPK, as my bodyguards. As further precautions, I refused to touch any drink or food as I remembered very well the arsenic poisoning that Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim suffered when he too was in the same prison.

So, from the time I entered prison until the time I walked out four days later, I did not eat or drink, which of course the prison interpreted as a hunger strike. They told me that a hunger strike is a serious crime and they could charge me for that. But that was the least of my worries at that point of time.

I met no less than five or six senior officers at different points of time who all insisted that I agree to meet my wife and lawyers so that they could arrange bail for me. I made it very clear that I refuse to see anyone because I do not want them to start crying and begging me to agree to bail as that would weaken me. If I shut myself out from the rest of the world that would make it easier to stand firm.

The head of the Special Forces and someone from the Intelligence Unit also met me to explain that they will try their best to keep me safe. Nevertheless, they can’t watch over me 100% of the time so my continued presence in prison is a great burden to the entire staff. We are on full alert and we have to report to the ministry every hour on the hour. No one can sleep because of you, they said, so please agree to bail and leave.

One of the Special Forces chaps told me to never trust anyone. Don’t even trust the men in uniform, not even if they wear this same uniform, he tugged on his shirt to emphasis the point. Your life here is worth a packet of tobacco. Prisoners will kill just for that. And Sirul (or was it Azilah?) is very intelligent, he added. He knows which prisoners can be bought and he has many on his payroll. He can always get someone to do his job for him.

Whenever I was brought out they made sure that Sirul and Azilah, and the other 18 or so police officers that are in their same block, were locked up. Once, when they brought me out, and someone in the walktie-talkie said that the two were in the hospital, they quickly locked me up and only brought me out again after the two were safely locked up. I could see that they were not merely trying to frighten me but were genuinely worried.
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