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Self-professed Indonesian 'princesses' arrested

The Malaysian court accused two women claiming to be princesses from an ancient Indonesian empire of entering the country illegally.

Malaysian immigration authorities arrested Puteri Lamia Roro Wiranata, 21, and Puteri Fathia Reza, 23, in a buffer zone between the sultanate of Brunei and Malaysia's Sarawak state on July 16, their attorney Shankar Ram Asnani said.

The women claimed they had been living "in exile" in Switzerland and Germany and that they were visiting Southeast Asia using passports "issued by the Sunda Democratic Empire," Shankar said.

The "empire" refers to the former monarchies of the Sundanese people in Indonesia dating back centuries - no longer recognized by Indonesia and other countries in the region.

The women managed to enter Brunei in July, but they claimed they had been forced into the buffer zone - considered by both countries to be under Malaysian jurisdiction - because they were allegedly expelled by Brunei authorities, Shankar said.

State prosecutors charged them Wednesday in Sarawak's High Court with entering Malaysia illegally and allegedly representing themselves with false travel documents, Shankar said. They face unspecified prison sentences and fines if convicted, he said.

Immigration officials familiar with the case could not immediately be contacted.

The court later scheduled hearings to begin Oct. 9, and the women were released on bail after nearly two months in the custody of police and immigration authorities, said another lawyer, Keith Chin.

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