Trial opens against 30 over terrorism activities, High Court sits in Sabah Prisons Department
The prosecution’s first witness, former deputy director of the Internal Security and Public Order Department (Special Operations Command) Bukit Aman, Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun, told the court he noticed a difference in the number of ‘intruders’ in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, when he entered the village twice on different dates.
“The majority of them were different from the ones I saw the day before. But, they were all wearing the same type of uniform with camouflage prints and they were armed,” he said.
Not only was there a drop in the number of intruders, there were new faces compared to the ones he saw and met on his first visit, he added.
Abdul Rashid, who is now the director of the Security and Public Order Division of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) in Lahad Datu, said that on the first day of his visit on Feb 15, he was disguised as a police personnel with the rank of sergeant major.
He said he helped to carry supplies from the police vehicle to the kitchen of an occupied house and, when he conducted a head count, he found that there were 79 armed people, five of them women, in attire that looked like army fatigue.
But on his visit the following day, he counted 63 and the majority of them were not the same people he saw during his first visit, he said.
On his first visit, he said, he noticed three men holding M16 rifles and one man had a .45 pistol at his waist.
During his second visit, he noticed more types of weapons such as a Garand rifle, four Colt G45 pistols, one revolver and a carbine as well as machetes worn on the body of some of the men and on the waist of others. “But one man had two grenade launchers in a webbing belt kit worn on his chest, one launcher on the left side of his chest and the other on the right,” he said.
Abdul Rashid said he did not take part in the negotiations between ACP Zulkifli Abd Aziz, who was the deputy chief of Special Branch 1 in Sabah, and leader of the intruders, Datu Agbimuddin Kiram.
He said the purpose of his joining the visit to Kampung Tanduo was to conduct ‘ground appreciation’ to gather information on the intruders, including evaluating the enemies’ strength and the weapons they had. Earlier, the prosecution amended the date of all the charges from Feb 9 to Feb 12 last year.
Of the 30 individuals being jointly tried for various offences in relation to terrorism activities in Sabah between Feb 12 and April 10, twenty-two, including two Malaysian men, are charged with being members of a terrorist group, punishable with life imprisonment and a fine, and waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which carries the death penalty or life imprisonment upon conviction.
Of the 22, one faces two additional charges of recruiting members of a terrorist group and harbouring persons knowing that they were members of a terrorist group.
Of the remaining eight, five are accused of being members of a terrorist group; one of them, the sole woman of the 30 and a Malaysian citizen, is charged with harbouring persons knowing they were members of a terrorist group, while two are charged with attempting to harbour persons knowing they were members of a terrorist group.
The rest are Filipino nationals.
The hearing, before Justice Stephen Chung, is aided by a prosecuting team of seven led by Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, while a total of 10 counsel appeared for the accused, including a team of six led by peninsular-based lawyer Datuk N Sivananthan for 28 of the individuals.
The hearing continues today. — Bernama