Friday October 19, 2012
Somalians’ plea rejected
By QISHIN TARIQ
KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here rejected the guilty plea of the seven Somalians accused of shooting at Malaysian Armed Forces personnel during a robbery in the Gulf of Aden.
High Court judge Kamardin Hashim refused to accept the plea, saying counsel Edmund Bon had made it a conditional plea.
The Somalians had opened fire at the military personnel with the intent of avoiding lawful detention on Jan 20 last year, on board the Bunga Laurel vessel at 250 nautical miles from Oman territorial waters.
Bon asked for a postponement to address several issues in the charge, including an error on the location in the charge sheet.
“The latitude and longitude based on documents given to us contradicts the ones in the charge.
“We did a check on the coordinates given on the charge sheet, and the location was a place in India,” Bon told the court yesterday.
He asked for the inconsistency to be corrected before proceeding with the case.
Justice Kamardin asked Bon why he was raising the issue at this juncture of the case as he was not delivering his sentence yet.
“If you still want to contest the issue of location and such, then there is no need for a guilty plea and it should go straight to trial.
“I cannot accept the plea from any of the accused as it appears to be a conditional plea. I reject this guilty plea and set a trial date for the case to be heard before another judge,” said Justice Kamardin.
The judge postponed the case, but did not set a date for case management.
The court had ruled on Sept 24 that it had the authority to hear the case, dismissing the application by one of the accused to quash the original charges.
The seven are facing an alternative charge which is punishable by life in prison, or a maximum 14 years in jail, while the original charge carries the mandatory death penalty.
Three of the Somalians are 16-year-olds, while the four adults are Ahmed Othman Jamal, 26, Abdil Eid Hasan, 21, Koore Mohamed Abdile and Abdi Hakim Mohd Abdi, both 19.
The case, which was transferred to the High Court on April 14 last year, is a test case for Malaysia as the suspects were detained in international waters after naval commandos rescued the Bunga Laurel and brought the suspects into the country.
The Somalians alleged attempt to hijack the tanker, which was carrying an estimated RM30mil in lubricating oil and ethylene dichloride, was foiled by the Royal Malaysian Navy.