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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lahad Datu intrusion: Fate of 19 to be decided on June 20

KOTA KINABALU - The High Court here today tentatively fixed June 20 to decide on the fate of 19 accused in the Lahad Datu intrusion case.

Justice Stephen Chung tentatively fixed the date after the defence closed its case today, having called 20 witnesses over 24 days since Feb 25.

He also fixed June 10 for hearing of submissions by both parties.

The prosecution began its case on Jan 6, 2014 with 30 individuals - 27 Filipinos and three local men - accused of various offences linked to the armed intrusion at Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu in February 2013.

The prosecution had called 166 witnesses over 239 days of proceeding which ended on Jan 5.

On Feb 5, Chung ordered 19 of the 30 accused to enter their defence after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing a prima facie case.

However, on Feb 23-24, nine of the 19 chose to plead guilty, but the judge reserved sentencing after the defence closed its case.

Four of the nine each had two charges brought against them - waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and being members of a terrorist group - but only pleaded guilty to being members of a terrorist group.

Meanwhile, the prosecution and defence debated on whether it was admissable to tender an affidavit of a prosecution witness as evidence in the defence trial today.

Philippine Notary Public and lawyer Takahiro Kenjie Cinco Aman said on May 3 this year, he received a request from a woman to notarise the affidavit at his office in Manila.

Counsel Datuk N. Sivananthan said according to Sections 74 and 78 of the Evidence Act 1950, an affidavit that bore the seal of a notary public could be tendered as evidence.

However, deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar contended that the affidavit did not fulfil Section 424 (1) (d) of the Criminal Procedure Code as the affidavit was not sworn before an officer exercising consular functions on behalf of the Malaysian government in the Philippines.

He also noted that under Malaysian law, affidavits were private documents.

Chung ruled that the affidavit of the prosecution witness, who was identified as PW165, was not admissable to be tendered as evidence.

He also said he was unaware that the witness, who was given protection, had been deported back to the Philippines.

"This affidavit comes as a surprise. The defence had chosen not to call PW165 to substantiate the affidavit," he said.

Thirteen Filipinos, including a woman, and a local had entered their defence in the High Court that sat at the Sabah Prison Department, for offences allegedly committed between Feb 12 and April 10, 2013.

Some of the accused are facing one to multiple charges of being members of a terrorist group and waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Others are alleged to have wilfully harboured individuals they knew to be members of a terrorist group, or solicited or gave support to a terrorist group.-- BERNAMA

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