MANILA—The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the High Court of Kota Kinabalu delivered its ruling Friday on the case of 27 Filipinos accused of waging war against the Malaysian King and being a member of a terrorist group in connection with the Lahad Datu incident that took place in February 2013.
Judge Stephen Chung found no prima facie evidence against 11 of the 27 accused and the charges against them were ordered dropped. The Court gave the prosecution 14 days to file an appeal on the dismissal of the charges. If no appeal is filed, 10 of the 11 acquitted will be released and eventually sent home. One of the 11, Totoh bin Hismullah may remain in Malaysia as he had been found by the Court to be a Malaysian citizen and no longer a Filipino.
On the other hand, the Court found prima facie evidence against the remaining 16 Filipinos and have been ordered by the Court to present, through their legal counsel, evidence in their defense. This will give the Defense side an opportunity to rebut the Prosecution’s evidence.
The determination made by the Court is only preliminary and was based on the evidence presented by the Prosecution. A verdict on the culpability, if any, of the 16 remaining accused will not be rendered until the Defense has completed the presentation of its evidence, which is expected to begin later this month.
All 27 accused Filipinos were ably assisted and represented before and during the trial by a highly-qualified Malaysian lawyer, Datuk N. Sivananthan, whose services were arranged by the Philippine Embassy and paid for by the Philippine government. An Embassy representative was present at today’s hearing.
The accused were also visited regularly by Embassy officers and personnel.
The Philippine Embassy will continue to extend all appropriate assistance to the accused Filipino nationals.