Lahad Datu intrusion: Federal Court upholds death sentence of 9

lahad-datu-9-1PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court today upheld the conviction and death sentence on nine Filipinos who were charged with waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over the Lahad Datu intrusion in 2013.

Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif, who chaired a five-man panel, said the court agreed with the appellate court’s decision that death was the most appropriate sentence to be imposed on the nine men based on the findings of the facts of the case.

The nine men are Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, 54, the son of the late self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram, Julham Rashid, 70, Virgilio Nemar Patulada @ Mohammad Alam Patulada, 53, Salib Akhmad Emali, 65, Tani Lahad Dahi, 64, Basad H. Manuel, 42, Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, 46, Al-Wazir Osman, 62, and Ismail Yasin, 77.

The Federal Court panel unanimously dismissed the final appeal brought by the nine men and upheld the appellate court’s decision on June 8 last year which maintained the conviction and death sentence against them for waging war.

“We are of the view the convictions against them were safe,” said Justice Raus, adding that the court would write a judgment on the matter.

The other judges on the panel were Chief Judge of Malaya Ahmad Ma’arop, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judges Ramly Ali and Azahar Mohamed.

The Kota Kinabalu High Court had sentenced the nine men to natural life sentence, but the Court of Appeal set aside the natural life sentence and imposed death sentence on the men.

Meanwhile, the Federal Court also upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision to acquit and discharge 14 others on the charge of waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and for terrorist-related offences linked to the armed intrusion at Kampung Tanduo between Feb 12 and April 10, 2013.

They are Masir Aidin, 23, Anwar Salib Akhmad, 34, Binhar Salib Akhmad, 32, Abdul Hadi Mawan, 53, (Filipino with Malaysian Identity card) Rijmal Salleh, 24, Abdul Majil Jubin, 46, (Filipino with Malaysian identity card) Rizman Gulan, 24, Basil Samiul, 38, Totoh Hismullah, 60, (a Filipino with Malaysian identity card) Saidili Jaharul, 56, Kadir Uyung, 31, Lating Tiong, 21, Dani Ismail, 61, and Salib Akhmad Emali (for terrorist-related offences).

In dismissing the prosecution’s appeal against their acquittal, Justice Raus said the court found that the decision to acquit them was based on the concurrent finding of facts by the High Court and Court of Appeal, and there was no reason for the Federal Court to decide otherwise.

The panel delivered its decision after hearing submissions for about three hours by defence counsel N Sivananthan and the prosecution, which was headed by deputy public prosecutor Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud.

The hearing of the appeal proceeded in tight security with each of the accused persons seated in the courtroom being accompanied by two prison officers.

The nine men were clad in red-and-white prison clothes, while 12 of them wore purple-coloured prison garb. Only Abdul Hadi Mawan wore green-coloured prison clothes.

Members of the media were ushered to Federal Court Room 2 at 8.30am to follow the court proceedings through a live feed which was held in Federal Court Room 1.

The court proceeding began at 9.25am with deputy public prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin making his submissions relating to the acquittal of the 14 men and urged the court to reverse their acquittal on charges of waging war and terrorist-related offences.

But counsel Sivananthan, representing 13 of them, except for Hadi, who was represented by lawyer Abdul Gani Zelika, argued that there was no evidence of them committing the offences.

On the nine men’s appeal against the conviction and death sentence for waging war, Sivananthan submitted that there was lack of evidence that the nine were involved in waging war.

“No evidence by the prosecution to indicate that any of the men had fought, shot or killed and had committed anything relating to waging war.”

He said there was no evidence to show that they had actually participated in waging war, adding that their mere presence in the area did not mean they were waging war.

Awang Armadajaya countered by saying that the death of terrorists could not be equated with the death of the country’s law enforcers, adding that terrorists did not have the right to be in the country.