From the Straits Times (Jan 31): Malaysia jails teenager for 5 years for supporting militants on Facebook
KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Filipino teenager who supported the militant Abu Sayyaf group via Facebook posts was on Wednesday (Jan 31) sentenced to five years' jail by a court in Malaysia.
In November 2017, the 18-year-old boy had admitted to supporting the Abu Sayyaf group through his Facebook account under the name of "Abu Tahlaba Al-basilanie", between March 1 and 6, last year.
The offence of soliciting or giving support to terrorist groups or for the commission of terrorist acts carries a sentence of life imprisonment or up to 30 years' jail.
Justice Ravinthran Paramaguru said that the five-year jail sentence was meted out after considering all factors, including the fact that the accused had committed an offence under Malaysian law and that it was a serious offence.
He said that although the defence counsel had said that the accused may not have realised that what he did was an offence, ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
He added that the accused had reached the age of maturity between March 1 and 6, the dates the offence was committed.
The judge also noted that the posting of pictures and videos was not only an expression of support but indicated a solemn oath (baiah), which was a formal statement of support.
Justice Paramaguru said that he did not think it would be fit to send the accused to the Henry Gurney reform school for juvenile offenders as the case was serious.
He said the accused should consider himself lucky and reflect on what he has done while in prison.
During mitigation, counsel Mohd Nazim Maduarin, who represented the teenager, urged for a lenient sentence saying that the accused was a first-time offender and had just reunited with his father when he came to Sabah, Malaysia, from the Philippines in 2016.
He added that the accused studied only up to Grade 7 in the Philippines, which is the equivalent of Form One in Malaysia.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Azlina Rasdi pushed for a deterrent sentence to serve as a lesson to the accused and also as a reminder to the public at large.
She said that although the prosecution conceded that the accused was a first-time offender, the court must look at the seriousness of the offence committed.