A Malaysian court’s death sentence on nine Filipinos who were involved in a bloody attempt to seize Sabah from Malaysia in 2013 is not yet final, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Friday.
In a statement, the DFA said the case will still be heard by the Federal Court of Malaysia, which is Malaysia’s Supreme Court, under automatic appeal.
“The Court of Appeal’s decision is not yet final,” the DFA said. “In the meantime, the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur is monitoring their case very closely.”
In February 2013, followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III deployed about 200 of his men, some of them armed, to Malaysian-controlled Sabah to press the royal clan's historical claim on the resource-rich territory, sparking weeks of deadly clashes with Malaysian forces.
The violence in Lahad Datu threatened to strain Manila's warming ties with Malaysia, which has been brokering the country's peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as calls for the government to revive a long-shelved claim to Sabah emerged.
Malaysia launched armed offensives against the Filipinos to quell what they call an intrusion of Sabah, where it has exercised control for decades.
The attacks have killed dozens of Kiram's men while eight Malaysian security forces died in armed confrontations with the Filipinos.
On Thursday, the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya, Malaysia affirmed the decision of the High Court convicting nine Filipinos of the crime of waging war against the king.
It also overturned the High Court’s imposition of life imprisonment and imposed the greater penalty of death, but affirmed the acquittal of 13 Filipinos of various crimes related to treason and terrorism.
The DFA said the Philippine government has extended legal and other forms of assistance to all the defendants from the trial stage of their case up to the appeal, adding it will continue to extend assistance to them as their case progresses. — RSJ, GMA News