Sabah court to try Filipinos in standoff
The High Court of Kota Kinabalu on Friday found prima facie evidence against 16 Filipinos accused of belonging to a terrorist group and waging war against the Malaysian King during a 2013 standoff in Lahad Datu, Sabah, and ordered them to present evidence in their defense, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila.
The court, led by Judge Stephen Chung, cleared 11 other Filipinos involved in the incident.
The DFA said the findings were preliminary and based only on the prosecution’s case.
The determination of their culpability would be made after the defense has presented its evidence, which would begin later this month.
The standoff occurred when armed followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu landed in Lahad Datu in a bid to assert their ancestral claim over Sabah and take it back from Malaysia in February 2013.
The prosecution in Malaysia has 14 days to file an appeal on the dismissal of the cases against the 11 other Filipinos. If no appeal is filed, 10 of the 11 Filipinos will be freed and sent home.
One of them, identified as Totoh bin Hismullah, may remain in Malaysia. The court found that he was a Malaysian citizen and no longer a Filipino, the DFA said.