KOTA KINABALU, June 20 — The confessions of the accused persons in the Lahad Datu intrusion case must be given due weight as their story corroborated with one another, the High Court here was told today.
Datuk N. Sivananthan, counsel for 13 Filipinos charged in the case, said his clients, who were in solitary confinement with no access to each other, gave their confessions individually before a Sessions Court judge prior to the case being heard in the High Court.
“In their confession, they all said they were duped into coming to Sabah with the promise of a job, but they gave different statements, yet their version of events were very consistent.
“In fact, the testimony of the prosecution’s own witness corroborates with the accused persons’ confessions,” he said during oral submissions at the end of the defence trial.
Sivananthan also said there was a dispute on the authenticity of the transcripts of communication interception conducted by the Special Branch (SB).
He said the format of the transcripts tendered during the prosecution trial differed from the ones that were tendered as evidence during the trial of an SB personnel Corporal Hassan Ali Basari, who was convicted of withholding information on the intrusion in 2013.
He pointed out that the witness, who testified under protection in both trials, admitted to preparing the document tendered during Hassan Ali’s trial, but denied preparing the same documents during the intrusion trial.
Sivananthan also said that one of the prosecution’s protected witnesses admitted that factions existed within the so-called Sulu sultanate and there were followers who changed their allegiance between Esmail Kiram and Agbimuddin Kiram.
Abdul Gani Zelika, counsel for the sole Malaysian in the defence trial, said there was no solid evidence to show that his client, Abd Hadi Mawan, was a member of the terrorist group that was claiming Sabah by waging war.
He said the prosecution made no effort to investigate a person by the name of ‘Abraham’ who could verify Abdul Hadi’s connection with the terrorist group.
Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor (DPP) Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar said the accused Filipinos, despite claim of having no knowledge they were following a group to wage war and claim Sabah, did play a role, although minor, as they were part of a group that came to create war.
He also said the testimonies of some of the accused that they were threatened with death if they tried to escape the group that intruded Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu was questionable.
On the communication interception transcript format, Mohd Dusuki said the prosecution invoked Section 24 of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA) 2012 so that the format that was tendered in the intrusion trial was admissible as evidence.
“I do not know what happened during Corporal Hassan Ali’s trial as I was not the DPP then.
“But the difference in the format of the transcripts does not affect the authenticity of the contents of the communication interception,” he explained.
Thirteen Filipinos and a local man entered their defence before Justice Stephen Chung at the Sabah Prison Department for various offences allegedly committed between February 12 and April 10, 2013.
Some of the accused are facing one to multiple charges of being members of a terrorist group and waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Some are alleged to have wilfully harboured individuals they knew to be members of a terrorist group, or solicited or gave support to a terrorist group.
Chung maintained July 25, the date already set, to deliver his decision on the case. — Bernama