M’sian jailed for passport offence

Self-employed gets two years for possessing Philippine travel document

Mohammad Kamal listens to his counsel Hairul after the sentencing yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: A self-employed Malaysian man was sentenced to two years’ jail by the Magistrate’s Court here yesterday for possessing a Philippine passport.

Magistrate Nuruhuda Mohd Yusof imposed the sentence on Mohammad Kamal Sa’aid, 47, after he pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 12 (1) (d) of the Passport Act 1966 which is punishable by a maximum fine of RM10,000 or a jail term of up to two years, or both, upon conviction.

The proceedings were held at a male medical ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital One here where the accused is admitted for a suspected liver problem.

Mohammad Kamal, defended by counsel Hairul Vaiyron Othman, was caught committing the offence at a releasing door of Terminal Two, Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Jan 25.

The charge stated that Mohammad Kamal had the Philippine passport in his possession under the name of Amililio Manuel Karingal bearing the numbers XX4025549 which he had obtained through a fake statement declaration.

He was ordered to serve his jail sentence from the date of his arrest on Jan 25 this year.

Prosecuting officer Inspector Azwal Azman told the court that the accused was caught by a police team at the said place and seized his MyKad as well as his Philippine passport.

He was then brought to the Commercial Crime Investigation Department for further action, and investigation revealed that he is Malaysian who was in possession of a Philippine passport without legal authority.

In pleading for a light sentence, the accused’s counsel submitted that his client has no criminal record.

Hairul also said that Mohammad Kamal had regretted what he had done and requested for an appropriate sentence to be imposed on him.

In reply, Azwal applied for a deterrent sentence taking into account that this case had involved two countries – Malaysia and the Philippines.

The magistrate also ordered the passport to be surrendered to the Immigration Department following an application by the prosecution, for further action.

In a newspaper report, the police had arrested the accused who was alleged to be a mastermind of a Philippine investment scam and fled to Sabah after allegedly cheating 15,000 Filipinos of nearly 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) last November.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib had revealed that the police detained the accused in Ranau but it was for possession of suspected fake Malaysian identity documents.

He said the accused was arrested over “identity issues” and not the investment scam in the Philippines.

There had been no official request by Manila police to Bukit Aman to arrest the accused for the scam so far, said Hamza.

In November last year, the Philippine police launched a manhunt for the accused, purportedly a Malaysian from Sabah who went by a different name in the Philippines.

The accused, who allegedly told Filipino investors that he was related to top Sabah politicians, operated a pyramid investment scheme under a company called Aman Future Group Philippines Inc, promising returns of up to 67%.

The victims had used their savings, mortgaged homes and borrowed to invest in the scheme.

Many Filipinos had also been coming to Sabah to look for the man who portrayed himself as a religious person.

Among those cheated are said to be local officials, government employees, police and military officers.

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