Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lahad Datu: Police detective nabbed after his phone was tapped

Malaysian police were intercepting the telephone calls of one of its Special Branch personnel soon after a group of people wearing camouflage uniforms were spotted at Kampung Tanduo, a remote coastal village in Lahad Datu district last February.

The High Court here heard on Tuesday that police had also intercepted the telephone conversations of other individuals between two men identified as Datu Amir Bahar and Raja Muda.

A Kuala Lumpur-based Special Branch administrative assistant told Judge Ravinthran Paramaguru that she was tasked to listen to the recordings of the intercepted calls to be translated and transcribed into Bahasa Malaysia.

Testifying as a protected witness on the second day of the trial of Detective Kpl Hassan Ali Basari, the Special Branch administrative assistant said the intercepted calls she had listened to and translated were in Suluk.

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Hassan, 58, was accused of intentionally omitting to give any information relating to terrorist acts between January and March 3 at the Special Branch office in the Lahad Datu police station.

The charge under Section 130M of the Penal Code carries a jail term of up to seven years or a fine or both upon conviction.

Questioned by deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Datuk Nordin Hassan, the administrative assistant whose identity was kept hidden as she testified from another room in the court, said among the calls she had listened to was between Datu Amir Bahar and Raja Muda.

Asked by Nordin to read out the transcript of the recording dated Feb 25, the administrative assistant said Datu Amir Bahar said he came to know from Hassan who was a policeman that the authorities will go in at midnight. Raja Muda took note and said they were prepared.

Shown another document by Nordin, the administrative assistant said it was the transcript of another telephone conversation between Hassan and another male dated March 3. Among others, Hassan had asked how many people had entered and the male answered “more than 400.”

In that conversation Hassan asked the male again as to whether all those who had entered were Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) soldiers, and the male caller responded saying they were mixed, including soldiers of the sultan.

Shown another document, the administrative assistant said it was a transcript dated March 3 she did of an intercepted call between Hassan and the same male caller.

In that conversation, Hassan told the male caller that an individual named Ismail Kiram was claiming his family's rights to Sabah and if the Malaysian Government did not comply, they would cause chaos here.

“In that conversation, Hassan also told the male caller that they would be sending more people to Sabah,” the administrative assistant told the court.

Felda auxiliary policeman Lans Korp Mohd Ali Asmali who was the third witness told the court that he and fellow auxiliary policeman Sharizan Shadek had gone fishing off Tanduo on Feb 11 and at about 2am on the following day, they heard the engine of a large boat locally known as a jongkong.

Questioned by Nordin, he said the vessel came in from the open sea and after while headed back in the same direction.

Mohd Ali said they continued fishing until about 6.30am and as they headed back to shore, they noticed about 100 people wearing camouflage uniforms milling about the Tanduo beach or at a surau.

He said some of them were red headbands while others wore white songkok with red armbands.

Mohd Ali said they landed their boat some 50m from the village and rushed home before heading to the police station near the Cenderawasih township at the Felda area at about 8.20am.

He said he and Sharizan were however had to wait until about 4pm before they could lodge their police report as the Lahad Datu district police chief wanted to personally hear what they had to say.

Senior Asst Comm Zulkifli Abd Aziz said that Hassan Ali Basari had not raised any warnings about any terrorism acts being planned by the self-styled Sulu sultanate at Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu district.

Zulkifli said at that time he was serving in the police force at the Deputy Chief for Special Branch in Sabah.

Shown two transcripts dated March 2 and 3 of intercepted telephone conversations, he said the contents were “very important'' to national security and should have been reported to the authorities.

Zulkifli, now the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) intelligence unit chief of staff, said he met the leader of Sulu gunmen intruders who had illegally occupied Kampung Tanduo on three separate occasions on Feb 14, 15 and 16.

He said the leader of the so called Royal Sulu Force Datu Azzimudie Kiram had rejected his advice to leave Sabah at the three meetings.

Zulkifli said Azzimudie told him that he would only retreat from Sabah if ordered by Jamalul Kiram, the Sulu Sultan.

To a question from deputy public prosecutor Datuk Nordin Hassan, Zulkifli said he told Azzimudie at their meeting on Feb 16 “bloodshed could occur'' if they refused to leave Sabah.

After that meeting, Zulkifli said he had proposed to Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib that authorities drop leaflets urging the gunmen to surrender.

He said the leaflet would also serve as a safe passage for the gunmen to leave Tanduo provided they lay down their arms and handover themselves to Malaysian security forces.

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