Brunei Sultan wins court case over miniature Koran

The Sultan of Brunei on Wednesday won a court battle in Australia over an alleged agreement to buy a 400-year-old gold-lined miniature Koran for eight million US dollars.

Brunei Sultan wins court case over miniature Koran

The Sultan of Brunei on Wednesday won a court battle in Australia over an alleged agreement to buy a 400-year-old gold-lined miniature Koran for eight million US dollars.

A group of Australian businessmen claimed in the supreme court that the sultan, one of the world's richest men, had agreed to buy the matchbox-size Koran as a wedding gift for his third wife in 2005.

The men, who reportedly bought the Koran in Russia from a former colonel in the KGB secret police, said the money was never paid and launched legal action through their company, Garsec, claiming a breach of contract.

Judge Robert McDougall ruled, however, that an Australian court could not hear the case and the company should pursue their complaint through the justice system in Brunei.

But Garsec director Michael McGurk told reporters outside the court the sultan could not be sued in Brunei because he has declared himself infallible under his own country's law.

"No one should be above the law in Australia," he said, describing the Sydney court's decision as a travesty of justice.

"The fact of us going to Brunei to lodge a lawsuit against the sultan is something that can't happen, given the fact that he's declared himself infallible.

"The sultan should be called to account... he's managed to get himself a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card."

McGurk said the case cast doubt on the sultan's reputation as a generous benefactor as Garsec had guaranteed part of the proceeds of the sale would go to Islamic charities in Sydney.

"All of those charities have lost out today as a direct result of this judgment," McGurk said.

When the case began more than a year ago McGurk was quoted as saying the company would donate 10 percent of the proceeds to designated charities, including a local Islamic school.

After losing the case Wednesday, McGurk said that if the sultan changed his mind and wanted to buy the relic, Garsec would donate half to charity.

The company would consider appealing the Sydney court's decision or could put the Koran back up for sale, he said, adding that several offshore buyers had previously expressed interest.

AFP

Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 12:56
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