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8 more Filipinos in Sabah charged

Eight more Filipinos in Sabah have been charged with terrorism, bringing to 16 the number of suspects charged in connection with the Sulu sultanate’s bid to reassert its claim over the territory, Malaysian media said Tuesday. Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the second batch of suspects were also charged under Malaysia’s Security Offenses Act, the Star Online reported. On March 20, eight Filipinos were charged with “waging war” against the Malaysian king, a crime punishable by death. Malaysia’s state-owned news agency Bernama said one of the suspects was a Malaysian police corporal who was accused of “intentionally refraining from disclosing information on terrorist acts,” an offense that carries a maximum jail term of seven years. Five of the other suspects, all Filipinos, face the death penalty for “joining a terrorist group” and waging war against the king, Bernama said. The sixth suspect faces four counts of recruiting terrorists or participating in terrorism, which carries a penalty of up to 30 years in jail. He was also charged with harboring terrorists, which carries a life sentence. The seventh suspect was also charged with harboring terrorists. In Taguig City, the sultanate denied that the eight newly-charged suspects were their followers. Abraham Idjirani, the spokesman of the sultanate, dared Malaysia to reveal their identities, noting that the men could also be Malaysian civilians who supported Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. “They should reveal the names of the arrested and charged immediately. We will not deny if they are really RSF (Royal Security Force) fighters,” he said. Idjirani again denied that the sultanate paid its followers to join the Sabah expedition, pointing out that they have no financial capability to do so. The Malaysian police earlier said it is investigating several Malaysians suspected of financing the Sabah incursion, one of whom was Datuk Seri Muhammad Ridzwan Sulaiman, head of a charity foundation in Kuala Lumpur. Ridzwan later showed up at the Ampang Jaya police headquarters and denied knowing the Sulu sultan. Idjirani said Ridzwan denied giving money to the sultan but admitted giving money to another claimant to the Sulu throne, Sultan Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram, a nephew of the sultan. Idjirani said it was also Ridzwan who financed the coronation last December of Sultan Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram, who he recognized as the genuine Sulu sultan. “Based on recogntion given by the Philippines government to the Sultan of Sulu, my organization has provided financial assistance to him.
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