KOTA KINABALU: The prosecution in the Lahad Datu intrusion trial closed its case here today without calling its key witness.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar said the prosecution had failed to locate retired Special Branch officer SAC Zulkifli Abd Aziz who played an important role in negotiating with the intruders of Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu.
The prosecution had until today to call Zulkifli, who served as Sabah SB deputy chief during the intrusion, but instead produced two witnesses to testify on efforts made to track down the retired police officer.
Corporal Muhammad Firdaus Jaimun of the D5 Unit of the Sabah Criminal Investigation Department told the court that he was instructed by his superior DSP Ang Seow Aun on Oct 1 last year to serve a subpoena on Zulkifli.
“I was instructed by DSP Ang to go to house number 2, first floor, Block B, Cyber City Apartment 1 to locate SAC Zulkifli.
When I arrived at the address, I tried to knock on the door and call out SAC Zulkifli’s name but there was no reply,” he said.
Muhammad Firdaus said he did this every three days for two months and each time he went, the house was always quiet and dark.
To a question by Mohd Dusuki, the corporal said DSP Ang had also instructed him on Oct 15 last year to contact Zulkifli on two handphone numbers and found that the numbers were no longer in service.
He also told the court he was informed that Zulkifli never married and was uncertain whether police had ever contacted any of his family members for information of his whereabouts.
Muhammad Firdaus said that on Dec 20 last year, he was instructed by one Supt Zahari Mohd Sidek to locate Zulkifli at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport after he was believed to have boarded an AirAsia flight to Manila.
“We waited for SAC Zulkifli at Gate 3 of the Departure Hall until all the passengers had boarded the flight. But SAC Zulkifli did not turn up. I contacted the Traffic Control Officer Sergeant Rahman Salleh and we found that SAC Zulkifli had never checked in,” he said.
Muhammad Firdaus also made a check with the Immigration Department on Zulkifli’s movement and found that the former police officer had left the state on Dec 7 last year and returned six days later.
He also told the court that he had tried to locate Zulkifli’s LCNOUVO brand motorcycle with the assistance of Sabah SB officer Insp Zam Zam Mat Beh, who informed all district policemen to stop and inspect if they spotted the motorcycle.
“Until today, the motorcycle failed to be located throughout Sabah,” he said.
To a question by Mohd Dusuki, Muhammad Firdaus said a public announcement was made on TV3 on the search for Zulkifli, which was aired on the television station’s 1.30pm news on Dec 22 last year as well as on its Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Ang told the court that during the course of his investigation on the intrusion, he received Zulkifli’s statements that were recorded by one ACP Mohd Akhir Ishak.
“I marked A27 on the statement and it has been under my custody until now,” he said.
Justice Stephen Chung rejected the prosecution’s request to mark the statement as an exhibit in the case as Mohd Akhir, the person who recorded Zulkifli’s statement, was not called to testify.
“This statement is to implicate or incriminate the accused who have been charged, including under sections 121 and 130KA of the Penal Code, which are serious offences, and both SAC Zulkifli and ACP Mohd Akhir cannot be cross-examined.
“For the reasons given, the statement of SAC Zulkifli is not admissible as evidence against any of the accused,” he said.
The hearing, at the Sabah Prisons Department, has gone on for 239 days since Jan 6, 2014, with 166 witnesses testifying.
Twenty-seven Filipinos and three local residents are facing one to multiple charges of being members of a terrorist group and waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
They are also alleged to have recruited members for a terrorist group or wilfully harboured individuals they knew to be members of a terrorist group.
The offences were allegedly committed between Feb 12 and April 10, 2013. The court fixed Jan 25 to hear submissions.