Sabah boat sinking: Boat owner pleads not guilty to ferrying people in unsafe conditions

The catamaran sank on Jan 28 on its way to Pulau Mengalum.
The catamaran sank on Jan 28 on its way to Pulau Mengalum.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The owner of a catamaran that sank on its way to Pulau Mengalum has claimed trial to a charge of ferrying people on water transportation in unsafe conditions.

Leong Vin Jee, 44, pleaded not guilty before Magistrate Jessica Ombou Kakayun on Sunday (Feb 5) at a room converted into a magistrates court at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here.

Statements from two Chinese tourists involved in the Jan 28 mishap were also recorded.

Leong's lawyer Edward Paul said the accused's family had posted a bail of RM5,000 (S$1,597) on Monday.

Case management has been set for Feb 28.

Skipper Sharezza Salian, who was also charged for the same offence, had on Saturday pleaded guilty and was jailed six months by the Sessions Court.

Another man, Aman Abdul, 38, a guide who was arrested together with Sharezza on Jan 29, will be a witness to the case.

Sharezza and Aman were on board the ill-fated catamaran with 29 others, including 28 Chinese tourists, and were the first two to be rescued after the vessel sank.

Twenty others were rescued later while at least three are confirmed to have died. Six are still missing.