Wednesday September 26, 2012
Seven Somalians accused of piracy offered lesser alternative charge
By QISHIN TARIQ
KUALA LUMPUR: The prosecution has offered an alternative charge to seven Somalians accused of shooting at the Malaysian Armed Forces during a robbery in the Gulf of Aden.
In a letter from the Attorney-General dated Sept 20, the prosecution offered the lesser alternative charge after it refused one of the accused’s application to strike out the charges.
The new charge under Section 32(1)(a) of the Firearms Act (Act 260) is punishable by life in prison, or a maximum 14 years prison, while the original charge carries the mandatory death penalty.
Counsel Edmund Bon said the defence was going over the plea bargain to the lesser charge.
“As the earlier charge involves the death penalty, we need time to get instructions from our clients,” said Bon, adding that the defence had just got a translator for their clients, who could not speak English or Malay.
DPP Mohd Abazafree Mohd Abbas also requested more time to prepare documents in the event the accused plead guilty to the alternate charge.
The prosecution later told reporters they would be subpoenaing 111 witnesses.
High Court judge Kamardin Hashim fixed Oct 8 for mention.
On Monday, the court ruled that it has the authority to hear the case, dismissing the application by one of the accused to quash the charges.
The seven were charged last year for the offence allegedly committed between 8.10pm and 10pm on the Bunga Laurel ship off Oman waters on Jan 20 last year.
Three of them are 16-year-olds while the four adults are Ahmed Othman Jamal, 26, Abdil Eid Hasan, 21, Koore Mohamed Abdile, 19, and Abdi Hakim Mohd Abdi, 19.
The case was transferred to the High Court on April 14 last year.
It is a test case for Malaysia because the suspects were detained in international waters after naval commandos rescued the Bunga Laurel and brought them to the country.
The 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 after a shootout.