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Friday, 14 February 2014 | MYT 1:45 PM

Lahad Datu intrusion trial: Commandos were not looking for a firefight

KOTA KINABALU: The police’s elite VAT69 commando unit at Kampung Tanduo was equipped for reconnaissance operations instead engaging the enemy in a firefight on March 1 last year.

A VAT 69 squad leader Deputy Supt Hakemal Hawari told High Court judge Justice Stephen Chung that his team was only equipped with light weapons such as M16 and Bushmaster rifles. 

Questioned by Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail whether Hakemal thought it was prudent for the security forces to engage in a firefight during the close reconnaissance, he replied: “No”. 

“This is because we were not equipped with the right weapons and equipment for war,” he explained.  

Hakemal said his team, which was the first of five teams A to E, had been assigned to do a close reconnaissance operations in Kampung Tanjung Batu.

He was given a briefing by Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun, the then Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Department deputy director, at about 9pm on Feb 27, 2013 regarding the operation which would be carried out three days later.

In the briefing that was also attended by other team leaders and officers, Hakemal was instructed to carry out his duties in a designated area in Kg Tanduo.

There, he told the court that Rashid had instructed them not to fire at any intruders if they bump into them, unless they were in a life-threatening situation.

Hakemal was leading three officers and 30 personnel during the operations.

They left for their area at about 1.30am on March 1, about eight hours before the first shootout occurred.

Earlier in the trial, Hakemal identified photographs of the aerial view in Kampung Tanduo, which he had taken on Feb 16, 2013. 

Hakemal will continue testifying in the trial on Monday of 30 people involved in the incursion into Lahad Datu and Semporna on February and March last year.

Tags / Keywords: VAT69 commando unit , Kampung Tanduo , Lahad Datu , Hakemal Hawari , Sabah

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