Malaysian rights group attacks death penalty for 9 Filipinos

Court condemns Muslim men from Sulu for deadly 'invasion of Borneo' four years ago
Malaysian rights group attacks death penalty for 9 Filipinos

Filipino Muslims hold a torch parade to call for peace in Sabah in this file photo during the 2013 conflict between the so-called Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia. (Photo by Ponce Luna)

June 13, 2017
A Malaysian human rights organization has condemned the country's Court of Appeals for sentencing nine Muslim Filipinos to death.

The nine were among around 100 gunmen from the southern Philippine province of Sulu who tried to reclaim parts of Borneo they claimed were part of the Sultanate of Sulu four years ago.

"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 June 12.

Hector denounced the decision of the three-member bench of the Court of Appeals that reversed an earlier decision by the Kota Kinabalu High Court, which sentenced the Filipinos to life imprisonment in 2016.

Judge Stephen Chung of the Kota Kinabalu High Court earlier said there was no evidence that the accused were directly involved in skirmishes that occurred during the unrest.

In a statement, the Philippine's 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 while the rest were either Malaysian security forces or civilians.

Hector said the severity of the incident "should never be sufficient to justify the imposition of an unjust sentence, especially the death penalty."

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