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Wang Kelian victims were held up for months, forced to pay RM6,500 (Updated)

25 Apr 2019 / 18:24 H.

PUTRAJAYA: Illegal immigrants who were trying to enter Malaysia through Thailand were kept in enclosures in human trafficking camps for months and extorted to pay about RM6,500 to the syndicates there to cross over the border, or risk being beaten to death.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the Wang Kelian camps and mass graves was told that captives who were unable to make payment would be brutally tortured, and they were also forced to bury fellow victims who succumbed to injuries in shallow makeshift graves just meters from where they were held.

The 18th witness in the RCI, Inspector Husyairi Musa, who was the then chief investigator at the Padang Besar district police headquarters, said this was based on statements recorded from several victims who managed to escape the camp into Malaysia in May 2015.

“We arrested six Myanmar illegal immigrants, who at that time were being ferried by a taxi near the border. In their statements, they claimed that they were fleeing the conflict in their country. They took about 15 days by boat with over 300 people to reach Thailand, before they were taken in by the syndicate.

“They were then brought to a camp, and kept there about three to four months. Only those who paid RM6,500 are released and allowed into Malaysia,“ he said, here, today.

“One of them told us that victims were tortured if they fail to make payment. He said about 62 people died during the time he was there, either from being beaten, or food poisoning. And the captives themselves were asked to bury the dead,“ he added.

Husyairi said those who acted suspiciously would also be roughed up by the guards and placed in separate, much smaller cages as a warning to the others.

According to the inspector, the six detained illegal immigrants had escaped the trafficking camp after Thailand military conducted a raid at the location, forcing syndicate members to make a run.

“They (immigrants) took that opportunity to break free from their enclosures and ran into the jungle without any clear direction for about three days. They then met a Thai who told them they had entered Malaysia,“ he said, adding that the Thai man had led them to a taxi near the border in Malaysia.

Husyairi said the taxi driver, a Malaysian, was also arrested with the six immigrants, and was charged under Section 26J of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti- Smuggling of Migrants Act for transporting illegal immigrants and fined RM20,000.

Husyairi also said he was instructed by his district police chief to lodge a false police report pertaining to the arrest of five illegal immigrants during the Wang Kelian operations in March 2015.

He told the RCI that Supt Rizani Che Ismail had specifically ordered him to mask the details of his report by claiming it was he (Husyairi) who arrested the individuals, despite that not being the case.

When asked by former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai, a member of the RCI, to confirm if he had indeed stumbled upon the illegal immigrants, Husyairi said: “No. I just received an order (to file the report as such) and I acted based on this order.”

Norian then questioned if this can be considered a false report and claimed that he could be charged for this.

To this, Husyairi said he agreed that the report contained false information, but said he was merely taking orders from his superior.

Husyairi said following the arrest, his team also found one pistol inside one of the suspect’s pockets, whom he identified as Thai citizen Biau Wong Chunpo, 44. He also found cash amounting to RM410 and 100 Thai Baht in a bag belonging to another suspect, Suriyan who is a 21-year-old Thai, and a machete in the possession of a 15-year-old Myanmar citizen. The other two suspects were also Myanmar, aged 16 and 17, respectively.

Earlier when taking the stand as the 17th witness, Inspector Mohamad Afiq Sarmid, who was then a VAT 69 Commando Troop 8 commander who led a team of 25 officers to conduct survey operations at the Genting Perah hill in Wang Kelian between March 11 and 13, 2015, said it was his team that nabbed the five said illegal immigrants.

He said the arrest was made while scouring the hill to verify the existence of more human trafficking camps, following the discovery of the first camp in January 2015.

According to Mohamad Afiq, he was then instructed by his superior to handover the suspects to the SB.

A Malaysian is believed to have been actively involved in the Wang Kelian human trafficking syndicate, based on evidence found at the site.

Another witness, Perlis state Special Branch protective security (E6) coordinating officer ASP Wan Ahmad Hamirudin, said following the discovery of the first camp in January 2015, he was given several case evidences by Assistant Superintendent Jamaluddin Shah Mohd Jawan, who was then Padang Besar Special Branch (SB) chief.

He said these included a book and several pieces of paper, which he said Jamaluddin had acquired from General Operations Force (PGA) officers who had previously conducted a survey operations at the camp in Wang Kelian.

“Based on my analysis on these evidences, we found several names, handphone numbers and bank account numbers written down in the documents.

“We managed to trace these information back to one local bank account in Malaysia,“ he told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the Wang Kelian human trafficking camps and mass graves, here, today.

When asked by the RCI panel if he has the name of the holder of the account, Wan Ahmad said the information was confidential.

RCI chairman Tun Arifin Zakaria then requested members of the press and the public attending the public hearing to temporarily leave the hall to allow the panel to continue probing Wan Ahmad.

The proceeding was held behind closed doors for about one and a half hours before the RCI eventually adjourned for the day. The hearing will continue on May 7.

The RCI public hearing will continue on May 7.

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