Friday, December 4

VAT69 commando maintains stand of following instructions

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KOTA KINABALU: A VAT69 Commando yesterday maintained his stand that the VAT69 team had followed their superior’s instructions during the flushing out operations which involved six intruders being shot dead in Kg Tanjung Batu, Lahad Datu.

DSP Hakemal Hawari told the High Court that the team always strictly followed their superior’s briefing and instructions before an operation.

During cross-examination by counsel Datuk N Sivananthan, Hakemal stressed that he would correct his team members if they acted irresponsibly while carrying out their duties.

Sivananthan: Do you agree that as a commanding officer, it’s your duty to ensure that all your officers and men follow the instructions given to you by your superior before your assignment in Kg Tanjung Batu?

Hakemal: Agree.

He explained that the instruction from his leader Datuk Abdul Rashid Harun, was that if the team were to encounter intruders in Kg Tanjung Batu, they were to arrest them if they wished to surrender or retaliate if the intruders fired at them.

Hakemal pointed out that his team would fire if they were shot at or their lives were threatened.

The 8th witness also agreed with Sivananthan’s suggestion that during the flushing out operation in Kg Tanjung Batu, no firearms were recovered from any of six intruders who were shot dead, adding that he had not checked their bodies.

To another question as to whether he found any dead bodies after the flushing out operation in Kg Tanduo, Hakemal said yes, though he was not sure of the number, but it was more than 10.

“I’m not sure of the number.I’m also not sure what they were wearing because the bodies were one on top of another,” he said in the trial of 30 individuals charged with carrying out terrorism-related activities in Sabah last year.

Earlier on, Hakemal had also agreed with Sivanathan’s suggestion that Sector A to E in Kg Tanduo were basically set up to surround the intruders’ location.

He told the court that there were 161 VAT69 commandos deployed in the five sectors of Kg Tanduo.

During re-examination by Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as to why he did not inspect the six bodies at the time, Hakemal said that what mattered most was the safety of his team members and himself.

Twenty-two of the 30 accused, including two Malaysians, are jointly charged with waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and being members of a terrorist group.

One of them faces two additional charges of recruiting members for a terrorist group and harbouring individuals believed to be members of a terrorist group.

Whereas, five of the eight accused are charged with being members of a terrorist group, while another, a Malaysian woman, is accused of harbouring individuals believed to be members of a terrorist group.

Two others are charged with attempting to harbour individuals believed to be members of a terrorist group.

The offences were allegedly committed between Feb 12 and April 10 last year.

The trial before Justice Stephen Chung, which is being held at the Sabah Prisons Department, continues today. — Bernama