9 Filipinos sentenced to death in Malaysia over Sabah standoff

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — Nine Filipinos have been sentenced to death after a Malaysian court ruled on the Sabah standoff case.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in a statement on Thursday said the nine Filipinos were convicted of waging war against the King, which meant a death penalty sentence.

In 2013, more than 200 Filipinos led by Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, arrived in Lahad Datu, Sabah, in an attempt to occupy the province.

They are members of the Muslim royal clan Royal Army of Sulu, which has long been demanding recognition as the rightful owner of Sabah province.

The Sultanate of Sulu, asserting historical basis, is laying claim to the province of Sabah. They said the province was leased to Malaysia in 1878, and that the country is still paying the sultanate a token rent for the lease of Sabah.

The standoff lasted for three months - from February to April 2013 - and resulted in the the death of 12 Filipino rebels and two Malaysian police officers.

"The Court of Appeal's decision is not yet final. It will be heard by the Federal Court of Malaysia (Supreme Court) under automatic appeal," the statement read.

The government is extending legal assistance to the defendants.

The DFA also said the Malaysian court acquitted 13 Filipinos of "various crimes related to treason and terrorism."