KOTA KINABALU: Six accused in the Lahad Datu intrusion case pleaded guilty at the High Court here today to a charge of being a member of a terrorist group.
They are Philippine nationals Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, 45; Lin Mad Salleh, 50; Holland Kalbi, 50; Basad H. Manuel, 41; Ismail Yasin, 76; and Virgilio Nemar Patulada alias Mohammad Alam Patulada, 52.
The charge under Section 130KA of the Penal Code provides for life imprisonment and a fine.
However, justice Stephen Chung reserved sentencing as four of the accused – Atik Hussin, Manuel, Ismail and Patulada would be entering their defence for a charge of waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which carries the death penalty.
During mitigation, their counsel Datuk N. Sivananthan said that some of his clients were duped by the leader of the armed intruders into coming to Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu three years ago.
Mitigating for Atik Hussin, Lin and Holland, Sivananthan said they were promised a job in the state and even a Malaysian identity card.
“The moment they realised what the group was really up to at Kampung Tanduo,
they attempted to run away. The reason they are entering a guilty plea now after the prosecution trial
is because they had accepted the fact that they had come to Sabah with the (terrorist) group,” he said.
Sivananthan said Manuel was promised an office job in Sabah, but was tasked to collecting water and preparing meals for other members of the group who had intruded into Kampung Tanduo.
The counsel also said that Manuel had stated that whenever he went to collect water from a well in the village, he was constantly guarded by men with firearms to ensure that he did not try to escape.
Sivananthan said Ismail and Patulada did not expect the armed group to get involved in a skirmish that eventually claimed the lives of many, including nine security personel.
He said Ismail escaped from Kampung Tanduo after hearing gunfire and paddled a boat towards the Malaysian-Philippine border while Patulada stated that he was shot at by the other intruders.
“They all have families and are sole breadwinners and came to Sabah with the hope of making better lives for themselves and their families because it does not make sense that they leave their families to come here to be in a war where they can lose their lives and deprive their families of their sole breadwinners.
“Datu Agbimuddin Kiram (leader of the intruders) played a cruel trick on these unsuspecting individuals (accused) by enticing them to Sabah,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar said mitigation would not deter the sentence to be meted out due to the fact that the sentence had to be based on public interest.
Five accused, including three local men, are expected to enter a guilty plea tomorrow.
A Filipino and a Malaysian are charged with being members of a terrorist group. Another Filipino and a Malaysian face life imprisonment or imprisonment not exceeding 30 years or a fine on an amended charge of soliciting or giving support to a terrorist group.
Another Malaysian faces imprisonment of up to 30 years and a fine on an amended charge of soliciting a terrorist group by providing financial aid.
Yesterday, 10 of 16 Filipino accused wanted to plead guilty on charges that do not carry the capital punishment (death), but two, who are charged with being members of a terrorist group, changed their minds today and will enter their defence.
The defence trial, which was fixed for three weeks beginning yesterday (Feb 22) at the Sabah Prisons Department, will proceed after the guilty plea and mitigation of all eight Filipinos and three Malaysians have been recorded.