8 Pinoys charged over Sabah standoff

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A total of 8 Filipinos were charged on Wednesday, March 20 for belonging to a terrorist group and waging war against Malaysia's king over the standoff in Sabah.

The first offense carries a possible death penalty and the other a maximum of life imprisonment under Malaysia's penal code.

State news agency Bernama reported that the 8 accused -- aged between 17 and 66 -- did not enter a plea and no further hearing dates were immediately scheduled as the case was being transferred from a Sabah district court to a higher court in Tawau.

It is not clear the suspects were among the 107 people arrested for being involved in the standoff or Filipino settlers who abetted the "intruders."

The charges were read to the accused in the Bajau and Suluk languages at a heavily guarded police station 135 km from Lahad Datu, where a temporary court presided by Judge Amelati Parnell was set up in the presence of Malaysian Attorney-General Gani Patail.

Bernama reported that as of Tuesday, a total of 107 people have been arrested under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act, which in 2012 replaced the highly controversial Internal Security Act approved by the British colonizers.

Another 243 people are detained for immigration offenses. - with reports from Carlos Santamaria/Rappler.com