Source:¬†The Sun Daily
Three Somalia nationals were sentenced to 10 years’ jail each, while four others to eight years imprisonment by the High Court here today after they pleaded guilty to firing at Malaysian soldiers in the Gulf of Aden two years ago.
Judge Datuk Mohd Azman Husin handed down the 10 year-jail on Ahmed Othman Jamal, 30, Abdil Eid Hasan, 22, and Abdi Hakim Mohd Abdi, 22.
The four Somalis who were sentenced to eight years’ jail were underage individuals. He ordered all of them to serve the jail sentence from the date of their arrest on Jan 20, 2011. The charge against them was read in English and translated into Somali.
When handing down the decision, Mohd Azman said the court took into account their guilty plea, background, threat to the world community and other factors, and found the jail sentence meted on all the accused, including the juveniles, was apt.
All the accused were seen smiling after Mohd Azman handed down the sentence.
The Somalis were initially charged under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 with discharging firearms with intent to cause death or hurt on the Malaysian soldiers during a robbery onboard Bunga Laurel vessel.
The charge provides for the death sentence upon conviction. However, the charge was amended today and all of them, including a few others who are still at large, were charged with discharging firearms at the Malaysian soldiers to avoid them from being lawfully arrested by the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM).
The offence was committed on board the Bunga Laurel vessel at 250 nautical miles of Oman between 8.10 and 10pm on Jan 20, 2011. The charge, under Section 32(1)(a) of the Arms Act 1960, read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code, which carries a life imprisonment or for a term not exceeding 14 years.
Today, the case was fixed for hearing, but the prosecution, headed by Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamad Abazafree Mohd Abbas amended the charge against all the accused after discussing the matter with the defence counsel.
Meanwhile, in mitigation, lawyer Imran Hadzalie Abdul Hamid, representing Ahmed Othman, Abdi Hakim and an underage accused, said his clients had extended their full cooperation during investigation of the case.
Lawyer Edmund Bon, representing another of the underage individual, said the court should consider the accused guilty plea and that none of the Malaysian soldiers were injured. However, Mohamad Abazafree asked for a heavy sentence as the offence was a serious one.
“Based on the facts of the case, all the accused were arrested while attempting to rob the Bunga Laurel vessel in the Gulf of Aden. They were not normal robbers, but a group of pirates who were in the Gulf, an area known for pirate attacks on merchant vessels.
“They also used firearms to attack ATM and attempted to capture the crew on board,” he added.
Citing the ‘Reports on Acts of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships -Annual Report 2011’, Mohamad Abazafree said there were 286 incidents reported.
He said Malaysia was not the only country to detain and brought back the pirates to be tried as the Somali pirates had been prosecuted in several other countries, including South Korea, Holland, United States of America and Kenya.
According to the facts of the case, all the accused were in a small boat, which then approached Bunga Laurel with an intention to rob the vessel, but their action was discovered by an officer-in-charge who saw, through a binoculars, one of the pirates getting into the vessel.
The assault on the pirates was carried out from the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Bunga Mas 5 vessel and the team won over possession of Bunga Laurel, within two hours after it was hijacked by the Somali pirates.
Following a search, the RMN found several firearms, including two AK47 rifles, a pistol, more than 150 rounds of ammunition, hammer and a ladder used to climb into Bunga Laurel.
The prosecution team also comprised deputy public prosecutors Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim and Lailawati Ali, while other lawyers representing the accused were Lee Teong Hui, Saha Devan A.Arunasalam and Ameenudin Ibrahim.