Trial of 27 Filipinos in Sabah standoff to start January
MANILA, Philippines—The Malaysian high court will start hearing in January the case of 27 Filipino armed followers of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram III involved in a bloody clash with Malaysian forces in Sabah in February.
In a Malaysian news agency report on Friday, the high court of Malaysia allotted 17 days starting January 6 until February next year to hear the case of the Filipinos and three Malaysian nationals for allegedly being involved with terrorist groups against Malaysia’s head of state Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Justice Stephen Chung set the trial on the following dates: January 6 to10, 15 to17, 27 to 30 and February 10 to14 in 2014.
But starting next month, the prosecution and defense will have to file before the court the agreed facts and issues of the case.
The report said the hearing, which will be in open court, will be held at the Sabah Prisons Department in Malaysia.
The court could have attended to the case last September 17 in a supposed 11-day trial but the counsel sought more time to go through “voluminous documents and recordings as well as satellite imaging in relation to the case.”
Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said the trial dates were extended to “ensure a smooth proceeding with at least 50 witnesses to be called.”
“But I can confirm with you now, the number (of witnesses) can go up or down,” Patail said in the report.
“We have to allow the prosecution to cross examine, bearing in mind there are 30 witnesses,” he added.
On February 9, 2013, at least 200 men led by Sultan Kiram’s brother Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram landed in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu to reclaim Sabah.
The clash between Kiram’s men and Malaysian forces left 68 Filipinos and 10 Malaysian security personnel dead.
Sulu Sultan Kiram, 75, died of multiple organ failure on October 20.