The trial of 30 people accused of invading a Malaysian village has been adjourned until November.
The 27 Filipinos and three Malaysians, facing charges of terrorism and waging war on the King of Malaysia, appeared in court for the opening session on Tuesday in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah state’s capital, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reported.
They stand accused of being part of more than 200 armed men and women who had briefly taken over the village of Tanduo in Sabah state last March, claiming the territory belonged to the descendants of the Sultan, who once ruled over the land.
The Filipinos belong to a faction of followers of the Sultan of Sulu, a south Philippine region.
Malaysia launched a full-scale assault in response, including air strikes, before reclaiming the village.
At least 60 people, including 52 fighters and eight Malaysian police officers, were been killed in the fighting.
Many of the intruders are believed to have gone back to the Philippines, but 30 of those alleged to have been involved were rounded up and are now in a high-security jail in Kota Kinabalu.
They could face the death penalty if convicted.
“Their trial may shed light of some of the mysteries that surround the attack”, Al Jazeera’s Andrew Thomas, reporting from Kota Kinabalu, said.
“Did anyone in the Malaysian authorities know anything about the attack in advance? Was the attack an attempt to destabilise a peace deal between the Filipino government of the Philippines and Muslim militants?” These were questions Malays hope would be answered, Thomas said.
Thousands of Filipinos residing in Malaysia illegally, some for decades, were deported in a security crackdown that followed the attack. Some of them were forced to leave behind family members.