Sunday, August 1

Forces told not to open fire unless attacked – commando

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KOTA KINABALU: A senior VAT 69 commando told the High Court here yesterday that the Malaysia security forces did not do any preparation for warfare with the Sulu militants as they were only carrying out their assignment under Ops Daulat.

DSP Hakemal Hawawi were testifying in the trial of 29 accused who were alleged to have committed terrorism activities at several places in Lahad Datu, Semporna and Sandakan February 12 and April 10, 2013

Giving his oral testimony before High Court Judge Stephen Chung, Hakemal said they were only prepared for close recce at their respective areas of responsibility.

To a question under examination-in-chief by Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, he said because of no preparation and according to his experience as a commando it was not a wise step to engage warfare with the gunmen at that particular time.

Abdul Gani asked, “Did Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun specify the terms of engagement if you happened to meet the gunmen?”

Hakemal responded and answered “Yes”.

According to Hakemal, Abdul Rashid instructed them not to engage in any skirmish with the gunmen and not to fire at the enemies unless they were fired upon.

The trial of 29 accused persons including the nephew of the self-styled Sulu sultanate the III Datu Jamalul Kiram was held at a hall doubled as an open court at Kepayan Prisons here under tight security checks.

If found guilty they face the mandatory death sentence while the rest provide for life imprisonment and a fine, upon conviction.

Since the trial commenced on January 6 this year, Abdul Gani, who led the prosecution team, had called eight witnesses who were senior commandos and one auxiliary police.

It was learnt that the prosecution would produce more than 50 witnesses.

To another question by Abdul Gani, Hakemal, who was referred to a map said that the markings of their areas of responsibility were correct.

Hakemal further testified that he did give any briefing to his men and entered their area of responsibility on March 1, 2013 at 1.30am.

“When approaching our area of responsibility we were also equipped with night vision goggles and thermal imagers to enable us to do a close recce during the night,” he explained.

When asked by Abdul Gani whether the equipment were appropriate to do their close recce assignment, the witness answered “Yes”.

Abdul Gani was assisted by deputy public prosecutors Abdul Wahab Mohamed, Ishak Mad Yusoff, Mohd Dusuki Mokhtar, Cheng Heng Kher and Anati Kisahi while counsel involved were Datuk N. Sivananthan, James Tsai, Stella Simon, Zaleha Mohd Yusof Pan, Majnah Abdillah, Zakaria Ahmad Kamarudin Mohd Chinki, Ram Singh, YS Lo, Rowiena Rasad and Abdul Ghani Zelika.

The trial will resume on February 17.