KUALA LUMPUR: THREE Somali men were jailed 10 years and another four jailed eight years by the High Court yesterday after pleading guilty to shooting at Malaysian commandos off the Gulf of Aden two years ago.
Ahmed Othman Jamal, 30, Abdil Eid Hasan, 22, and Abdi Hakim Mohd Abdi, 22, were each sentenced to 10 years’ jail after pleading guilty to discharging firearms at members of the Malaysian Armed Forces to avoid detention.
They committed the offence on MV Bunga Laurel, 402.34 nautical km from the Oman territorial waters, between 8.10pm and 10pm on Jan 20, 2011.
Another four Somalis, whose names were withheld as they were underage at the time of the offence, were jailed eight years after pleading guilty to committing the same offence.
On Feb 11, 2011, the seven accused were charged under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, which carries the death sentence.
Yesterday, they pleaded guilty to an amended alternative charge under Section 32(1)(a) of the Arms Act 1960, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment or maximum 14 years’ jail.
According to the amended alternative charge, several other persons still at large were also alleged to have committed the offence.
The seven accused were composed when they pleaded guilty to the amended alternative charge read out to them in Somali by an interpreter.
At 7.38pm on Jan 20, 2011, the seven accused boarded the vessel and shot at military personnel approaching the ship, between 8.10pm and 10pm.
The accused surrendered around 10pm after a firefight. A search of the ship led to two AK-47 assault rifles, a pistol, 161 live bullets, and other related items being seized.
Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Abazafree Mohd Abbas urged the court to impose a deterrent penalty as the offence was a serious one.
He said piracy was rampant in the Gulf of Aden, and had the pirates succeeded in hijacking the MV Bunga Laurel, they would have taken the crew hostage for ransom.
The Gulf of Aden, he said, was an important shipping route to Malaysia, hence armed escorts were provided to Malaysian ships plying the route. He said a deterrent sentence would serve as a lesson not only to the accused but also to the world.
Counsel Imran Hadzalie Abdul Hamid, who represented the first, fourth and seventh accused, pleaded for a lenient sentence.
“They did not have steady work and suffered life pressures compounded by a civil war there (Somalia),” he said, adding that the MV Bunga Laurel sustained minimal repair costs.
Counsel Lee Teong Hui, A. Saha Devan, Ameenudin Ibrahim, and Edmund Bon, who represented the other four accused, informed the court their mitigation were the same as Imran.
Judge Datuk Mohd Azman Husin sentenced them accordingly and ordered their jail sentences to run from the date of arrest on Jan 20, 2011.
Source: News Starist Times