Court acquittals cast doubt on Thai-Malaysian cooperation
The acquittals in February and May this year of three Thai Muslims by the courts in the Kelantan state of Malaysia of charges ofpossessing explosives and bomb-making materials have casted as big doubt among Thai security officers about the cooperation between Thailand and Malaysia in curbing Islamic insurgency in the restive deep South.
The three suspects, Muhamad Sidi Saleh, Mamakoiree Suebae and Mayunai Jehdodolor were arrested by Malaysian authorities in a rented house in Pasemas of Kelantan state on December 14, 2009. A large amount of explosives and bomb-making materials were found in the house.
Both Mamakoiree and Muhamad Sidi are wanted by Thai authorities for insurgency charges. The former was arrested at Islam Burapha school in Narathiwat, prosecuted and put on trial on bomb-making charges but escaped while on bail and an arrest warrant was issued for Sidi under the emergency decree.
Although the three were wanted by Thai authorities, their extradition to Thailand to face criminal charges was not possible because there is no extradition treaty between the two countries, according to Thai security sources. They said that there was a similar treaty but it was inked by Thailand and Great Britain at the time when Malaysia which was then known as Malayu was under colonial rule.
At the start, the trio were tried by the Magistrate Court in Pasemas where they were arrested. Later on, the case was transferred to the Criminal Court, also in Kelantan state. On February 26 this year, the court acquitted Muhamad Sidi and Mayunai due to insufficient evidences whereas the third man, Mamakoiree by the Kotaburi Supreme Court as the defendant could prove to the court’s satisfaction that he had nothing to do with all the bomb-making materials and explosives found in the rented house because he was there for recuperation from his illness.
Thai security sources said that forensic science was employed in the investigation and Mamakoiree’s DNA was only found in his toothbrush and none on the illegal materials. Also, the court believed that a patient would need the best treatment and safety and the defendant also had a doctor to testify as his witness.
The sources explained that in Malaysia’s legal system, it is not necessary for the court to always listen to believe in the defendants’ testimonies whether they are true or untrue. But if the defendants can prove beyond doubt that they are not guilty as charged, then they will be acquitted, the sources said.
As a result of the acquittals of the three suspected militants, the sources noted that the Thai side should discuss with their Malaysian counterpart on their joint cooperation to resolve the insurgency problem in southern Thailand.
Besides the court acquittals, the sources pointed out some practices by Malaysian authorities which could be interpreted as not giving cooperation to their Thai counterpart. For instance, after the court acquittal of Muhamad Sidi and Mayunai, the two should have been deported back to Thailand and the Thai consular office in Kelantan state should have been notified so they should be issued with Certificate of Identity to facilitate their return through the proper border crossing. Instead, they were set free on a bridge and their whereabouts are still unknown.
As for Mamakoiree, the sources noted that Malaysian immigration officials should have detained him after his acquittal by the court because he entered the country illegally. He should be tried for illegal entry and then deported back to Thailand in which case the Thai consular office must be notified. But in reality, the Thai consular was kept in the dark all along.
Thai security officers have always suspected that Kelantan state is the sanctuary of the southern militants who occasionally seek refuge there or hold secret meetings there with the help of some local political figures sympathetic to their cause.