The defendants were involved in a violent Islamist incursion in Sabah in 2013. The ruling of the Kota Kinabalu High Court was overturned. For human rights activist, the severity of the incident "should never be sufficient to justify the imposition of an unjust sentence, especially the death penalty.” The Philippines Foreign Affairs department said the "death sentence is still not final”.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Malaysian human rights group has slammed the country's Court of Appeals for sentencing nine Filipino Muslims to death.
On 8 June, the three-member bench reversed an earlier decision by a lower court, which in 2016 had given the Filipinos life imprisonment for their involvement in the Sabah incursion four years ago, and sentenced them instead to death for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's king.
In 2013, about 200 Islamist militants from Sulu, southern Philippines, landed in Malaysia in an attempt to claim parts of Borneo. The incursion was inspired by the self-proclaimed Filipino Sultanate of Sulu, which claims historical dominion over Sabah.
"The death penalty has been shown to have no deterrent value on crimes," said Charles Hector of the group Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture on Monday.
Hector slammed the decision of the Court of Appeals to reverse an earlier decision by the Kota Kinabalu High Court, which had sentenced the Filipinos to life imprisonment in 2016.
Judge Stephen Chung of the Kota Kinabalu High Court had said there was no evidence that the accused were directly involved in skirmishes that occurred during the unrest.
In a statement, the Philippines Foreign Affairs department said the "death sentence is still not final," adding that the case will still to be heard by the Federal Court of Malaysia.
The month-long Lahad Datu standoff in February 2013, killed 68 people, 56 of whom were gunmen from Sulu whilst the rest were either Malaysian security forces or civilians.
The assault was the most serious security crisis faced by Malaysia in years. But for Hector, the severity of the incident "should never be sufficient to justify the imposition of an unjust sentence, especially the death penalty."