KUALA LUMPUR: The 11 Uighur Muslims who escaped to Malaysia from a Thai prison last year have appealed to the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to drop the charges against them for entering the country illegally.
Lawyer Raimi Abd Rahim said they wanted the AGC to reconsider the charges against them.
“This case is a high profile case that has attracted international attention.
“We hope that the AGC will look into the charges under Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act and give us its decision before the next mention date later this month,” he said.
The Magistrate’s Court today set July 25 for case mention pending a decision on the men’s representation. This is the fifth time the case has been mentioned in court.
The 11 men – Zakaria Arman, Salehudin Ali, Jaefar Amin, Osman Abbas, Alin Osman, Asen Ziyali, Taher Kasim, Ibrahim Rexiti, Nurudin Muhammad, Abdul Kader, and Yusuf Ahmed – claimed trial in April for entering Malaysia without a valid permit.
The men, who are believed to be between 20 and 40 years old, have been in custody since they were first taken to court early this year.
If found guilty, they face a maximum fine of RM10,000 or five years in jail, or both.
When asked if there was any plan to send the men from Malaysia to another country, Raimi said it was “in progress” but did not reveal further details.
It was reported in February that the men escaped from a Thai prison by digging holes in the wall and using blankets to lower themselves down.
They then crossed the border into Malaysia where they were arrested by the authorities.
The men were part of a group of 200 Uighurs arrested in Thailand four years ago.
Members of the group identified themselves as Turkish citizens and asked to be sent to Turkey, but more than 100 were forcibly returned to China in July 2015.
The move sparked international condemnation, including from rights groups which feared they could face torture in China.
The US government has also raised concerns on the possible deportation of the 11 men.
The Chinese government reportedly implemented stricter regulations on religion beginning this year, as part of broader efforts to put religious practices directly under the state.
Former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported as saying in February that Malaysia had received an official request from the Chinese government to extradite the 11 men to China.