KOTA KINABALU: The High Court here yesterday heard that the first close recce or exchange of fire between the Malaysian commandos and the gunmen in Kampung Tanduo occurred after the commandos were fired at about 300 meters from Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu.
Vat 69 commando Mancha Ak Ata, 48, told Justice Stephen Chung that they only received instruction that close recce would be carried out on March 1, 2013.
Under cross examination by counsel Datuk N Sivananthan, who represented 27 accused persons out of the 30 people charged with committing terrorism acts, Mancha said on February 28, 2013, they went to their base camp according to their respective sectors.
“I and my team did not do any close recce at that time; we only traveled from the tactical premises and Felda Sahabat and the close recce only commenced on March 1, 2013 at about 7am,” he testified, adding that 34 personnel were involved in the close recce operation.
He agreed with a suggestion by counsel that from February 22, 2013 where he was briefed about the intrusion up to February 28, 2013 the day they went to their base camps, there was no close recce done at the area where the armed men were holed up.
“Based on my knowledge on why there was no close recce done, this was because it was still in a negotiation period,” said Mancha.
To another question by Sivananthan, the witness agreed that the sectors which were divided into five were designated to entirely surround the armed men’s location.
“I know where the location of the armed men were through the photographs shown by Datuk Rashid Harun, and when I went to the ground with my team I knew where the armed men’s location was,” said Macha at an on-going trial at a hall used as an open court at Central Prisons in Kepayan here, which was under tight security.
To another question from Sivananthan, Mancha testified that after the gun fight between them and the armed men, he decided not to pursue the enemies as he was worried that his team would be ambushed.
“In my assessment, if we pursued them, there was a possibility to be attacked by the armed men,” Mancha explained.
Meanwhile, during cross examination by counsel Ram Singh for Mohd Ali Ahmad, he said they had yet to gather enough information in respect of the information of the location of the armed men.
“It was because it should be carried out in tactical way,” he said.
The accused persons, including Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, the nephew of the late self-styled Sulu Sultanate III Datu Jamalul Kiram, were charged separately with waging war against the Yang di – Pertuan Agong, being a member of a terrorist group, harbouring persons knowing that they were members of a terrorist group and recruiting other persons to be a member of a terrorist group, allegedly committed between February 12, 2013 and April 4, 2013 at several places in Lahad Datu.
The charges were leveled under the Penal Code which carry the death sentence while the rest provided for life imprisonment and a fine, upon conviction.
The prosecution was led by Attorney General of Chambers Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail with his team deputy public prosecutors Abdul Wahab Mohamed, Ishak Mad Yussoff, Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, Cheng Kher Her and Anati Kisahi while other counsels involved were Kamaruddin Mohd Chinki, YS Lo, James Tsai, Stella Simon, Zaleha Mohd Yusof Pan, Majnah Abdillah, Abdul Ghani Zelika and Zakaria Ahmad.
The trial continues on January 15.