MANILA - Nine Filipinos were sentenced to death in Malaysia for waging war against the country's monarch, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Thursday.
In a statement, the DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur reported Malaysia's Court of Appeal "affirmed the decision of the High Court" in convicting nine Filipinos for "waging war against the king."
It said the Court of Appeal imposed death penalty in place of the High Court’s imposition of life imprisonment.
However, the Court of Appeal's decision is not yet final as it is still yet to be heard by the Federal Court of Malaysia "under automatic appeal."
The DFA said it extended legal assistance and other forms of aid to all the defendants.
"[We] will continue to extend assistance to them as their case progresses," it added.
A local Malaysian newspaper on Thursday quoted Court of Appeal judge Mohd Zawawi Salleh, chair of the panel, as saying the decision to mete death sentence to the Filipinos was unanimous.
The Star identified the nine as the following:
- Julham Rashid, 70;
- Virgilio Nemar Patulada alias Mohammad Alam Patulada, 53;
- Salib Akhmad Emali, 64;
- Tani Lahad Dahi, 64;
- Basad Manuel, 42, a son of the late self-proclaimed Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram;
- Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, 54;
- Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, 46;
- Al Wazir Osman alias Abdul, 62;
- and Ismail Yasin, 77.
A Kota Kinabalu High Court last year sentenced the Filipinos to life imprisonment for "waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Section 121 of the Penal Code," according to the report, but the prosecution filed an appeal.
The nine Filipinos were involved in the 2013 standoff wherein hundreds of militants from Tawi-Tawi arrived in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia and faced Malaysian forces.
The group called themselves the "Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo."
Malaysia dropped its charges against 10 Filipinos in the 2013 standoff last year.
Malaysia's Court of Appeal also acquitted 13 Filipinos from various crimes related to treason and terrorism on Thursday.