Testimonies from three witnesses.
- Cop alleges district police chief ordered him to lodge false report on the arrest of five illegal immigrants
- Special Branch officer identifies Malaysian connection behind closed doors
- Victims made to pay traffickers RM6,500 to secure release or they would be beaten to death
The inquiry heard the testimony of the 17th witness Inspector Mohamad Afiq Sarmid, a member of the VAT69 Commando, who was part of the raiding team that arrested five illegal foreigners.
Afiq, who was the Troop 8 commander in 2015, explained that his team comprising 24 commandos split into four squads and entered the hills near the Perlis National Park near Genting Perah.
This was following the discovery of a transit camp and graves in Bukit Wang Burma in January 2015. He said the team was tasked to find out if there was a settlement of illegal immigrants in Genting Perah.
“We were briefed to enter the area to assist the SB (Special Branch) by verifying the existence of human trafficking settlements,” he told the inquiry.
The search operation in March 2015 uncovered an abandoned transit camp.
They found at least 14 bare camp structures over two days of scouring the area and made the arrest of the five people about 200m from the camp towards the end of the operations.
The names of those arrested were read out during the inquiry and were identified as two Thai nationals, Pau Wong Chunpo, 44, and 21-year-old Suryan, and three Myanmar nationals, Yahya,15, Shahidullah, 16, and Momotin, 17.
Among the items seized from the five people were a Smith & Wesson pistol, an empty gun magazine, 12 various types of bullets, a machete and cash, RM410 and 100 Thai Baht.
“It took time for us to reach the place and we only found the place on the third day, which was March 13,” Afiq said, adding that he was instructed by the Intelligence Staff Officer to lead the operation.
Afiq said the camp the team found was an old one as only the frames of the tents were still standing.
He said he then contacted the commanding officer at the tactical headquarters who instructed him to head back and hand over the evidence as well as the five foreigners to the Special Branch at Perlis police headquarters.
Questioned by RCI deputy chairman Norian Mai on why no graves were found during the operation, Afiq said he was just following instructions and that the mission was to check for the presence of illegal immigrants.
The next witness, Inspector Mohd Husyairi Musa, who was ordered to bring the illegal immigrants to the Padang Besar district police headquarters, said the foreigners were handed over to him at a rubbish dumpsite at the Perlis National Park about 5pm on March 13, 2015.
Husyairi, who was then operation intelligence inspector at the Padang Besar district police headquarters, said the foreigners were handed over to him with their hands bound.
Husyairi explained to the inquiry’s Conducting Officers, Khairul Anuar Abd Halim and Saiful Hazmi Mohd Saad, how he had received a call from Padang Besar district police chief Supt Rizani Che Ismail on that day, ordering him to head to the Perlis National Park to receive five people who were arrested from Special Branch (SB) officers.
However, he was later ordered by Rizani to file the report with it stating him as the officer who made the arrests.
Husyairi, the inquiry’s 18th witness, said he then drafted the said report after surrendering the five suspects to the then Padang Besar district CID chief Assistant Superintendent Junaidy Md Saad for further investigations.
The exact report was then presented and read out during the inquiry, to which the inconsistencies were scrutinised by panel members, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai and former chief prosecutor Datuk Noorbahari Baharuddin.
Noorbahari: Something is not right, you said they handed the five over, but the report says you came across them acting suspiciously, and you told us you got instructions from who?
Husyairi: Supt Rizano.
Norian: Now in the report you said you came across, but you said it was on instructions of the district chief to make arrests, so that is a false report, we can charge you, you know. Why say came across, we would accept if you said it you were handed the suspects. Which is right; (you were) ordered?
Husyairi: I was ordered by the district chief to collect the five arrested people
Norian: Which means the report is not true?
Husyairi also revealed to the inquiry that human trafficking victims who fell prey to Thai syndicates were extorted up to RM6,500 each to secure their release into Malaysia or risk being beaten to death.
He said that victims who failed to pay the fee were beaten by hired camp guards, after which some succumbed to their wounds a week or two later.
“Their every movement was watched and if they did anything suspicious, they would be beaten and exiled to a smaller enclosure and made an example of to strike fear in others,” said Husyairi as he read out statements from several victims who managed to escape their captors.
“We stayed in the camps for about three-and-a-half months in the jungle, where at least 62 people died from the beatings and after eating unclean food compounded by the unsanitary conditions of the camps,” said one of the statements as read out by Husyairi.
“We were asked to bury the bodies of the victims in a space just a few metres from the camps where we stayed,” he read.
Husyairi said he obtained this information after recording the statements from three Myanmar victims who managed to flee into Malaysia after being held captive in the Thai camps.
The trio, who were later apprehended by local police, was made up of a husband-and-wife pair only identified as Noor Mohamad and Gulbalhal Hadi Rahmat, and a third person known as Hamidullah Hamid.
The officer then related how these Myanmar nationals had fled their country following civil conflict, where they were then packed into boats with a capacity of around 300 to 400 people by local agents there.
“It took 15 days for the boats to reach the coast of Thailand where they were transported by land to the trafficking camps and stayed there for several months until they are able to pay for their release,” he explained.
Husyairi detailed how the three victims he interviewed related to him how they managed to flee their camps in Thailand after an apparent raid by the Thai military in May 2015.
“They managed to escape from their enclosures during the raid, and walked through the jungle for three days before coming across a Thai man,” he said.
He said their statements detailed how the Thai national had told them they were already in Malaysia and told them to catch a taxi to head further inland.
He added that the Thai man had led them to a taxi near the border in Malaysia.
He said the taxi driver, a Malaysian, was also arrested with the 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.
Nineteenth witness Perlis Special Branch E6 coordinating officer Assistant Superintendent Ahmad Hamirudeen Wan Ahmad told the inquiry that documents seized from human trafficking campsites in Wang Kelian revealed the involvement of a Malaysian citizen that was traced through a local bank account number.
The bank account number was written in a notebook which also contained names and telephone numbers.
However, explicit details of the implicated Malaysian are categorised as “classified information” and were shared with the inquiry and its panel behind closed doors.
Hamirudeen said he received the notebook found on Wang Burma hill from Insp Jamaluddin Shah, the seventh witness at the RCI.
Jamaluddin had testified to having received evidence exhibits from ASP Azizie Mohd. He had previously told the RCI that he made a report at the Special Branch and passed the exhibits to Hamirudeen for the E6 division to analyse.
The items were a notebook with Siamese writing, a handphone, SIM cards, DVDs and CDs.
Yesterday was the sixth day of public hearings for the RCI.
Proceedings will resume on May 7.
Apr 24, Wang Kelian RCI: Day Five
Apr 23, Wang Kelian RCI: Day Four
Apr 22, Wang Kelian RCI: Day Three
Apr 17, Wang Kelian RCI: Day One