PUTRAJAYA: Nine Filipino men have been sentenced to death by the Court of Appeal for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in relation to the Lahad Datu intrusion four years ago.
Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh, who chaired the three-member panel, overturned the natural life sentence meted out by the Kota Kinabalu High Court on July 26 last year.
He said the case had an element of conspiracy, and that the respondents were part of the conspiracy hatched across the border to wage war against the Government and the King with intent to weaken the country from within to reclaim Sabah.
“The route from the Philippines to Sabah, the landing site at Kampung Tanduo and the different targets at Sabah were all pre-determined.
“This was an attack from a foreign enemy which is unprecedented in Malaysian history,” the judge remarked.
Justice Mohd Zawawi said the conspiracy behind the attack was as deep and large as it was vicious, and the execution was ruthless.
“The sentence imposed must reflect the condemnation of Malaysians against such a crime. We are firmly of the view that this is a fit and proper case to impose the death penalty against the respondents,” he added in delivering the unanimous decision.
The other judges on the panel were Justices Abdul Rahman Sebli and Kamardin Hashim.
The nine men are Julham Rashid, 70; Virgilio Nemar Patulada @ Mohammad Alam Patulada, 53; Salib Akhmad Emali, 64; Tani Lahad Dahi, 64; Basad Manuel, 42, who is the son of the late self-proclaimed Sultan Sulu Jamalul Kiram, Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, 54; Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, 46; Al Wazir Osman @ Abdul, 62; and Ismail Yasin, 77.
Clad in green prison garb and each escorted by two prison guards, the Filipinos showed no emotion after the verdict was delivered.
However, the panel dismissed the prosecution’s appeal against 14 men charged with waging war against the King and for terrorism-related offences.
In affirming the acquittal, Justice Mohd Zawawi said the panel was satisfied that the trial judge was right in holding that no case had been proven against the one Malaysian and 13 Filipinos.
He said the prosecution's case against them was predicated purely on circumstantial evidence which did not point irresistibly to the fact that they were involved in the offences with which they were charged.
However, Justice Mohd Zawawi allowed the application by Deputy Head of the Appellate and Trial Division Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud for the 14 to be remanded pending filing of appeal.