THE CRIMINAL COURT yesterday acquitted a Yala man of conspiracy to terror because of a lack of witness accounts that could have implicated him in a series of acts cited as separatist efforts 12 years ago.
The judges said the prosecution had presented only hearsay to implicate the defendant, Ahamat Ma-u-seng, and it was not sufficient to convince them that he had been involved in a separatist movement in the deep South known as Mujahideen Islam Pattani.
They also ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove he attended three meetings to plan attacks between June and August of 2002, before his arrest in September 2011.
The suspect, 31, was also acquitted of illegal possession of a number of weapons including an assault rifle and a pistol, of criminal or terror conspiracy and attempted insurrection. He had been in court custody since his arrest two years ago.
Meanwhile, local police have been beefing up security in Yala province including Betong district – scene of a devastating car-bomb attack last week – to cope with two coming events, the anniversary of a separatist movement and Malaysia’s Independence Day.
Both fall on August 31 and security forces are wary that symbolic attacks or incidents are possible.
Measures to be adopted include setting up more road checkpoints, conducting raids and stepping up inspections of sewerage systems in which bombs could be hidden, according to a security meeting attended jointly by police and soldiers yesterday.
Security officials say they are pursuing arrest warrants for two suspects alleged to have assisted in the Betong car-bomb attack.
Ahbah Jeh-ali and Makorseng Jehma were allegedly seen parking an explosives-packed vehicle at the site of the blast, and later hijacking a passenger van to use as an escape vehicle.