Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eight charged over Sabah intrusion

Accused face death penalty if found guilty of waging war against the king

LAHAD DATU: EIGHT Filipino men became the first to be charged with waging war against the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and engaging in terrorism since the Sabah conflict began.

They were charged at 1pm before magistrate Amelati Parnel at the district police headquarters here, which was turned into a temporary courtroom. This was for security reasons.

The charges were read to them in the Bajau and Suluk languages. No plea was recorded.

One of the eight men facing charges over the Sabah intrusion being led under heavy guard into Tawau district police headquarters yesterday. The group will be brought before the Tawau High Court at a later date for case mention.

The eight face the death penalty if convicted for the first offence and a maximum jail sentence of 30 years if convicted of the second offence.

The case was then transferred to the Tawau High Court, although no mention date was set.

The prosecuting team was led by Datuk Nordin Hassan, the deputy head of the Prosecution Division (Policy) in the Attorney-General's Chambers. He was assisted by deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar.

A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail was also present but did not speak to the scores of reporters. Pressmen were also not allowed into the temporary courtroom.

The charging of the eight yesterday came more than a month after a group of armed men entered Sabah. More are expected to be charged soon as security forces had arrested 107 people under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act and another 243 under the Immigration and National Registration Acts.

The stand-off between the armed intruders and Malaysian security forces escalated on March 1 when two policemen and 12 intruders were killed in a gunfight in Kampung Tanduo, Felda Sahabat.

This led to airstrikes and a massive ground offensive to mark the beginning of Ops Daulat on March 5.

The death toll currently includes 10 security personnel, 63 armed intruders and an unidentified teenager. Another 10 security personnel were injured.

In Kuala Lumpur, Bernama reports that the federal Criminal Investigation Department at Bukit Aman was now heading the probe.

CID director Datuk Seri Bakri Zinin said a team was gathering evidence in Sabah.

"Our investigation is exhaustive and covers all angles, even on how the terrorists obtained their weapons and received aid. We are focusing not only on Lahad Datu and Semporna, but a wider area."

He said decomposing bodies of terrorists posed a challenge to the investigators' gathering of evidence.

Police are looking at getting investigating officers to be posted at the six new police stations to be set up in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) area, a 1,400km stretch along the state's east coast.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said that Esscom would cover the Sandakan, Tawau, Kunak, Kudat and Lahad Datu districts.

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