Catamaran tragedy: Trial of accused postponed 


KOTA KINABALU: The trial of three accused who face up to 10 charges over the catamaran tragedy on its way to Mengalum Island, was adjourned to July 6 – 7 and August 7 – 11 this year.

Sessions Court judge Noor Hafizah Mohd Salim fixed the trial date for Sharezza Salian, 23, Leong Vin Jee, 44, and his mother Chung Ket Siew @ Chung Siaw Ping, 64, when the case came up for trial yesterday.

Sharezza, who was the skipper, Leong, the operation manager of the travel company, and Chung, who was the owner of the travel company, pleaded not guilty to each of their charges which were read to them on March 16.

The three accused were each charged with causing hurt to 20 passengers, all from China aged between 17 and 50, by taking the boat to sea so negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others.

They were charged under Section 337 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to six months or a maximum fine of RM1,000, or to both, upon conviction.

Sharezza, Leong and Chung were also alleged to have negligently caused the death of four China nationals, including two women, aged 27 and 49, but not amounting to culpable homicide.

The charges were framed under Section 304A of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail term of up to two years, or a fine, or to both, on conviction.

Sharezza and Leong also face two joint charges under the Ports and Harbours Regulations 2008 for failure to keep on the passenger boat with the appropriate safety equipment at all times and for embarking the passenger at Kampung Tanjung Aru Lama Jetty here, which was not a designated landing point.

The offences were framed under Regulation 16 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008 and Regulation 13 of the Ports and Harbours (Ports, Harbours and Dues) Regulations 2008, respectively.

The indictment carries a maximum fine of RM500,000 or a jail term of up to two years or both, on conviction.

Meanwhile, Leong and Chung were jointly accused of failing to keep the boat licence on the passenger boat at all times, which was charged under Regulation 9 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008.

Chung was also alleged to have employed Sharezza as the skipper of the boat without altering and reporting the particulars of the skipper to the nearest licensing authority, an offence framed under Regulation 13 of the Ports and Harbours (Sabah Licensed Small Ships) Regulations 2008.

All of the alleged offences were committed at Kampung Tanjung Aru Lama Jetty, at a travel company in Asia City and in the waters off the coast of Mengalum Island here between 9.15am and 11am on January 28.

Leong and Chung were released on bail of RM19,000 and RM16,000 with RM3,500 and RM3,000 to be deposited, respectively, with two local sureties while Sharezza is currently serving his six months’ jail sentence.

Deputy public prosecutor Nartiah Nurun Nazifah Mohd Ian appeared for the prosecution, while Sharezza was represented by counsel Benazir Japiril Bandaran, Michelle Usman and Hamid Ismail under the National Legal Aid Foundation (NLAF).

Counsel Edward Paul acted for Leong and Chung.