Trial of Sunda ‘princesses’ attracts American lawyers

MIRI: The Sunda “princesses” story has sure generated keen interest abroad, especially in the United States. 

The Sarawak Immigration Department versus Puteri Lamia Roro Wiranata and Puteri Fathia Reza court saga in this humble city in northern Sarawak has been read about far and wide via cyberspace and a group of American lawyers now want to come to have a close look at the legal proceedings. 

These American lawyers learned about these two “princesses” of the Sunda Democratic Empire after reading about them via the Internet, said the duo’s counsel Shankar Ram and Keith Chin. 

Free for now:Wiranata(second fromright) and Rezaposing for aphoto withShankar andChin at the Miricourt recently.

“Our lawyer friends in America have told us they want to come to Miri to attend the trial after reading about it via Internet news. American lawyers are very interested in this case because there are many similar cases in the United States, although the circumstances may be different. 

“This case has a lot to do with human rights issues and immigration matters which are issues that are very prominent in the United States. 

“The womens’ family members in Switzerland and their legal advisers in Indonesia and friends in Singapore have also read about their case through the Internet. 

“Many interesting issues will crop up during the hearing,” Shankar said when interviewed recently. 

Wiranata, 21, and Reza, 23, enjoyed their first breath of freedom on Tuesday after being in custody for the past 54 days following their arrest by the Sarawak Immigration Department officials at the buffer zone between Sarawak and Brunei, some 40km north of here in July. 

They were arrested after they were found loitering in the “no-man’s land” zone located after Sarawak’s Sungai Tujuh Immigration Complex. They claimed they were touring Brunei when they were arrested by Brunei immigration officials and dumped in the buffer zone. 

They alleged that Sarawak immigration officials later dragged them across Sungai Tujuh checkpoint and arrested them. 

On Wednesday they claimed trial to two charges filed against them by the state immigration department of having made false representation using their Sunda Democratic Empire passports and diplomatic passports to enter and live in Malaysia and of entering Malaysia without legal passes. 

Sessions Court Judge Timothy Finlayson Joel fixed trial for Oct 9 and ordered Wiranata and Reza freed on bail. 

Shankar said his law firm had posted bail of RM2,500 for each of the “princesses” and will take care of their welfare and accommodation during the pre-trial period.  

They are now housed in a confidential location in Miri.