PUTRAJAYA: Police officers who were involved in the initial discovery and who conducted the subsequent demolition of the Wang Kelian human trafficking camp in January 2015 were ordered to destroy all pictures of the site in their possession by their commanding officer.
Asst Supt M. Joeking, who was the then commander of Company B from the General Operations Force (PGA) Northern Brigade Battalion 3 that led the operations, said the order was given by his battalion commanding officer Supt Wan Hamzah Wan Kadir about two months after the camp’s discovery.
He however did not elaborate why the orders were given, but said Wan Hamzah had only asked that pictures that were stored at the battalion’s office’s computer be kept.
“All the pictures that my man took during our operations have been transferred to a computer in our battalion.
“But between March and April 2015, I received an instruction from my commanding officer that whoever has any pictures related to Wang Kelian on their personal devices to delete them immediately,” he told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) public hearing into the human-trafficking camp and mass graves today.
Joeking said the pictures were taken by his officers on two separate dates, the first being on Jan 19 when his team conducted a recce-cum-raid operation that unearthed the existence of the Wang Kelian camp, and resulting in the arrest of 38 illegal immigrants that day.
The second date was on Jan 21, after they were ordered a day earlier by the then Perlis deputy police chief to destroy the camp site.
He added that it was then (on Jan 21), while destroying the camp, that they discovered the infamous grave sites.
Asked why instruction was given to destroy the Wang Kelian camp, Joeking said it was standard practice among the police to avoid the location being utilised or inhabited by other illegal immigrants or human trafficking syndicates in the future.
“However, after we took some pictures of the location on Jan 21 and started destroying the site by burning tent canvases, that was when we discovered the graves. So we immediately stopped the demolition operation.
“This is to allow our investigations team to come in conduct further probe,” he said.
Asked if he agreed that the recce and raid operation on Wang Kelian on Jan 19 was a failure, as all the suspects involved in the the syndicate managed to flee, Joeking disagreed.
“In my opinion, it was a success, because at least we finally found the existence of the camp that no one knew existed before, and we managed to rescue the 38 illegal immigrants who became human trafficking victims of the syndicate.
“And we only understood about the whole syndicate after our operations,” he said, adding that there was no prior information about the campsite before.