The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Sunday called on the government to provide legal aid to its 29 followers, including a nephew of Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd, who are facing trial in Malaysia for the
Abraham Idjirani, the sultanate’s spokesman, said now that Datu Amirbahar Hussin Kiram and the 28 other Filipinos have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them, the government should help them during the trial.
“We are appealing to our government through the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) to provide them with legal assistance,” Idjirani told The Manila Times.
Datu Amirbahar, Kiram’s nephew, was arraigned before Malaysian High Court judge Ravinthran Paramaguru. He was identifed by Malaysian authorities as a “general” in the Sulu Sultanate’s Royal Security Force (RSF).
The judge reportedly ordered a joint trial of the 29 Filipinos, who are being tried for Waging War against the King and sheltering or recruiting individuals to become members of a terrorist group.
The first charge is punishable by death and the second carries a life sentence.
Of the 29 accused, 20 were charged with waging war against the King while the rest are being tried for recruiting and harboring terrorists.
Charged with Datu Amirbahar were Basad Samuel, Mohamad Ali Ahmad, Pabblo Allie, Abd Hadi Mawan, Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, Dani Ismail, Saidili Jaharul, Totoh Hismullah, Basil Samiul, Rizman Gulan, Abdul Majil Jubin, Rijmal Salleh, Julham Rashid, Tani Lahad Dahi, Al Wazir Osman, Virgilio Nemar Patulada, Masir Aidin, Anwar Salib Akhmad, Ismail Yasin, and Binhar Salib Akhmad.
Charged for lesser terrorism-related charges were Aman Radie, Timhar Hadir, Holland Kalbi, Lin Mad Salleh. Three more people were charged for harboring terrorists, including Norhaida Ibnahi, Kadir Uyung and Lating Tiong.
Another accused—Salib Akhmad Emali—faced all three charges and another case for allegedly recruiting individuals to become members of a supposed terror group.
Idjirani said although the Malaysian government provided counsel to 29 Filipinos, their sincerity to defend and seek acquittal for the accused is doubtful.
Idjirani also said neither the sultanate nor the Philippine government has been granted access to the detained Filipinos.
He said the court hearings were nothing but a “kangaroo trial” since it is doubtful that the accused were given proper representation and their rights duly respected.
He called on the Malaysian government to respect the human rights of the detained Filipinos and allow them to observe Ramadan.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO