MANILA, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Some 38 alleged members of the royal army of the Sultanate of Sulu who were arrested upon their arrival to Tawi-Tawi from Sabah asked for a formal preliminary investigation in connection with the criminal charges slapped against them on Tuesday.
The suspects, who are detained at a naval facility in Panglima Sugala at present, were charged with illegal possession of firearms and inciting to war under the Revised Penal Code, supposedly for taking up arms in their bid to reclaim Sabah from Malaysian control.
Assisted by chief public attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta, the group asked the Tawi-Tawi regional trial court to ask the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a reinvestigation on the charges against them.
In a four-page motion, the arrested men said they were not given ample chance to disprove the charges that were filed by the DOJ in court last Friday. Therefore, they asked the court to specifically order the DOJ to conduct a preliminary investigation where they would be given chance to submit counter-affidavit.
The Tawi-Tawi court was likewise asked to allow the 38 accused to post bail for their temporary liberty while the case is being heard, considering the charges against them are all bailable.
The 38 detainees were the first batch of members of the royal guards of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to face charges in the Philippines following their incursion in Sabah over the sultanate' s territorial claim.
Justice Sec. Leila de Lima earlier explained there is extraterritorial jurisdiction to investigate Kiram and his group under Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, which applies penal law on some crimes committed outside the Philippine territory.
Some 200 of Kiram's followers landed in Sabah last month to stake a territorial claim on the land. Ten Malaysian security forces and more than 60 Sulu gunmen were killed during the month- long standoff.