KOTA KINABALU: The police’s elite VAT69 commando unit in Kampung Tanduo was equipped with reconnaissance operations instead of those usually used in a firefight on March 1 last year, the High Court heard.
A VAT69 squad leader, Deputy Supt Hakemal Hawari, told judge Justice Stephen Chung that his team was only equipped with light weapons, including M16 and Bushmaster rifles as well as night vision goggles.
When questioned by Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail on whether he thought it was prudent for the security forces to engage in a firefight during the close reconnaissance, DSP Hakemal replied: “No.”
“This is because we were not equipped with the right weapons and equipment for war.”
DSP Hakemal said his team was the first of five teams that were assigned to carry out a close reconnaissance operation in Kampung Tanjung Batu.
He was briefed 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 last year about the operation, which would be carried out three days later.
During the briefing, which was also attended by other team leaders and officers, DSP Hakemal was instructed to carry out his duties in a designated area in Kampung Tanduo.
He also told the court that Rashid had instructed them not to fire at any intruders if they encountered them unless they found themselves in a life-threatening situation.
DSP Hakemal was leading three officers and 30 personnel to carry out the operation at their designated area.
They left for their area of responsibility at about 1.30am on March 1, about eight hours before the first shootout occurred.
Earlier during the trial, DSP Hakemal identified photographs of the aerial view in Kampung Tanduo, which he had taken on Feb 16 last year.
He will resume his testimony on Monday in the trial of 30 people who are accused of being involved in last year’s incursion into Lahad Datu and Semporna.