KOTA KINABALU - Six Filipinos who took part in the intrusion of Lahad Datu three years ago after being promised jobs and identity cards, pleaded guilty to being members of a terror group at the High Court here.
The men, who were facing various charges for their involvement in the intrusion of Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu in 2013, changed their plea and admitted to being members of a terror group under Section 130KA of the Penal Code, yesterday.
They are Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, Basad Manuel, Ismail Yasin, Virgilio Nemar Patuluda @ Mohammad, Lin Mad Salleh and Holland Kalbi. Atik, Basad, Ismail and Virgilio are also facing charges under Section 121 of the Penal Code for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Two other Filipino nationals and three Malaysians who are facing similar charges in connection with the intrusion are expected to change their pleas as well before Justice Stephen Chung today.
Two other Filipinos who were supposed to change their pleas, however changed their minds and claimed trial on the charge of being members of a terror group.
Counsel Datuk N. Sivananthan, who represented the accused, told the court that his clients had been promised jobs and identity cards by their leader, General Musa, the chief of staff of Datu Agbimuddin Kiram who was a brother of the self-styled Sulu Sultan.
In seeking a lenient sentence for his clients, he told Justice Chung that although they admitted to being members of a terror group known as the Royal Sulu Force (RSF), they were not involved in its militant activities.
He said this was consistent with their statements recorded individually before a Sessions Court judge in Lahad Datu shortly after their arrests sometime in March 2013.
Sivananthan noted that the sentence for those convicted under this section of the Penal Code was from one day in jail to life imprisonment.
He said the court should take into account the extent of the accused's involvement in the group's militant activities before meting out the sentence.
Senior Federal Counsel Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar urged the court to impose a maximum penalty, saying a lenient sentence would undermine and compromise Malaysia's sovereignty.
He said the accused had admitted to being members of a terror group, adding that terrorism had become a global threat.
Noting that the trial involved the first case of an intrusion by a group of foreigners into Malaysia, Dusuki said the court decisions would be a benchmark and serve as a precedent for subsequent cases.
Justice Chung said he would read out the sentences for the accused at the end of the trial which was held at the State Prison in Kepayan near here under tight security.