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Somali pirates: Trial to start today

Monday, September 24, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: The case of seven Somali nationals charged with discharging their firearms at Malaysian navy commandos in the Gulf of Aden will start today after the High Court here dismissed one of the accused’’s application to quash the charge against him.
Justice Kamardin Hashim ruled that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had jurisdiction under Section 22 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964 in charging the 16-year-old applicant.
He said the certificate to prosecute the applicant issued by the Attorney-General to prosecute the applicant was also valid since it was issued in accordance with Section 127A(1)(d) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
On other issues raised by the applicant’s counsel Edmund Bon on facts stated in the charge, Kamardin said it should be decided by the court at the end of the trial.
Following the development, deputy public prosecutor Mohd Abazafree Mohd Abas told reporters that the prosecution intended to call a total of 110 witnesses, including crew members of the vessel MT Bunga Laurel.
On July 5, the 16-year-old filed a notice of motion to quash the charge seeking a declaration that the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the charge against him under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalty) Act 1971.
The juvenile, who is being detained at the Sungai Buloh Prison with six other Somalis, also wanted an order from the court that the charge against him be stayed permanently and/or set aside permanently and/or to be quashed.
In his affidavit, he claimed that the purported offence as stated in the charge occurred outside the territory of Malaysia and not on Malaysian soil or high seas.
He claimed that the ship stated in the charge was not a Malaysian ship or registered in Malaysia.
On Feb 11 last year, he was charged with six Somali nationals with shooting at a Malaysian armed forces team on board the MT Bunga Laurel in their attempt to rob the merchant vessel, with the intention to cause death or harm, about 250 nautical miles off Oman, on Jan 20 last year.
They are facing the charge under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.
On Jan 20, 2011, Royal Malaysian Navy commandos came to the aid of MT Bunga Laurel when it came under attack by Somali pirates armed with AK-47 rifles and pistols, in a rescue operation codenamed ‘Fajar’ conducted with the help of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). — Bernama


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