Published: Friday March 15, 2013 MYT 11:06:00 AM
Updated: Friday March 15, 2013 MYT 11:28:07 AM
Lahad Datu: Philippines to file criminal charges against "Sultan's royal army"
MANILA: The Department of Justice will file criminal charges against 38 people believed to be members of the self-styled Sulu Sultan's “royal army”.
Justice Secretary Leila DeLima said cases for illegal possession of firearms, violation of the Election Gun Ban and violation of Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code for Inciting to War or Giving Motives for reprisals would be filed before the Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Regional Trial Court on Friday.
She said inquest proceedings against the 38 were held Thursday evening.
An inquest proceeding is an informal and summary investigation conducted by the public prosecutor in a criminal case involving persons arrested without warrant for the purpose of determining whether he or she should remain under custody and correspondingly be charged in court.
The 38 will be detained in a naval facility in Panlima, Tawi-tawi, De Lima said.
They are said to be followers of Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram who were intercepted by the Navy off Tawi-Tawi on Wednesday with a cache of arms after apparently fleeing Sabah.
The interception of the group came a month after Agbimuddin Kiram and his men crossed by speedboats from Tawi-Tawi to Lahad Datu on Feb 9 to press the sultanate's claim to Sabah, triggering a standoff with Malaysian forces.
More than 60 people have been reported killed since then, nine of them members of the Malaysian security forces.
The Philippine Navy vessel PS38 intercepted the first boat of 18 men and one woman in the waters off Omapoy Island at 6:35am Wednesday. The second boat ferrying 18 others in the waters off Andulingan Island was stopped about an hour later. Both islands are in the Tawi-Tawi group, De Lima said.
De Lima said the boats' occupants identified themselves as members of the RSF, and this was confirmed by some witnesses. Agbimuddin was not among them.
“From all indications they are probablythey were part of the Raja Muda group who went there and then got involved in the conflict with Malaysian forces and then came back home, and one of them is wounded,'' De Lima told a press conference on Wednesday.
She said they were not “fall guys.''
Agbimuddin's followers were taken to a naval facility in Panglima Sugala town in Tawi-Tawi and interrogated by a team from the National Bureau of Investigation and the Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN
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