Friday, February 21, 2020

Ensure sufficiency of evidence before charging anyone - AG discontinues cases of 12 charged with LTTE related crimes(MADPET)


Media Statement – 21/2/2020

Ensure sufficiency of evidence before charging anyone - AG discontinues cases of 12 charged with LTTE related crimes

Repeal SOSMA and ensure justice for ALL SOSMA victims

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) notes that the  Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) today announced that the government is discontinuing prosecution of 12 Malaysians it had charged with supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which included two DAP lawmakers. (Malay Mail, 21/2/2020).

The Attorney General was reported saying that decision was made ‘under my discretion pursuant to Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution’. Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said the decision was made after finding insufficient evidence to back its prosecution that would lead to a “realistic prospect of conviction”.

The 12 men were detained on Oct 10 and 12 in various parts of the country. On or about the end of October 2019, they were charged in court but bail was denied on the basis of these offences were listed as ‘security offences’ Under Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012(SOSMA). 

Section 13(1) SOSMA states that’ Bail shall not be granted to a person who has been charged with a security offence.’ Thereafter, one High Court judge decided that this section was unconstitutional, and said the accused had a right to apply for bail. Recently, another High Court judge decided that there is no right to bail. All these would not have happened if Parliament had repealed SOSMA, when Pakatan Harapan won the elections and formed the government in May 2018.

The arrest, detention and the denial of bail of these 12 SOSMA victims have received much attention by the media and the Malaysian public.

The current Pakatan Harapan government, who in their last Election Manifesto had ‘promised’ to repeal and/or remove the draconian and unjust provisions in SOSMA, but to date, after more than 20 months have failed to do so.

MADPET, although the news is good, is concerned whether the decision to discontinue proceedings against these 12, including 2 Pakatan Harapan State Assemblypersons, may have taken in ‘political’ considerations. It would have been better if the decision was to discontinue proceedings against all others (or some others), and not just this 12, many of whom are linked to a PH political party, who now being tried for SOSMA defined ‘security offences’, who are languishing in detention because the right to bail is denied.

AG or government discontinued proceedings?

The media report said that the AG ‘announced that the government is discontinuing prosecution’, and as such the question arises whether the decision of AG in this matter was independent, or was it as instructed by the government. Did the AG do as requested or desired by the government of the day?

We recall with unhappiness when the former AG also chose to not charge former Prime Minister Najib, in relation to alleged offences connected to the 1MDB and SRC, whereby now the new AG has charged Najib and others and trials are ongoing.

Hence, the role and actions of the Attorney General (who is also the Public Prosecutor), particularly his/her independence, need to be looked at and reformed accordingly.

Art 145(3) of the Federal Constitution states that ‘The Attorney General shall have power, exercisable at his discretion, to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence, other than proceedings before a Syariah court, a native court or a court-martial.’

There may be a need for new laws to clarify these powers of the Attorney General, to ensure that any AGs will not exercise these powers for any wrong reasons, be it political expediency or otherwise. The new law should also give others, being not just the actual victims but also any other concerned Malaysian the power to challenge the AG’s decision.

This discontinuing of proceedings against the 12 may reduce public discussion on SOSMA, but it should in no way delay the repeal of SOSMA and/or the removal of draconian provisions in SOSMA.

Longer Remand for Investigations Maybe Justified But Not Right to heard during remand applications

Whilst there may be a justification for a longer permissible remand period for the purpose of investigation for certain offences, the right to be brought before a Magistrate within 24 hours, and the right to heard by the Magistrate before further remand orders are granted must not be compromised. Further remand for investigation should be only by way of a remand order by a Magistrate. The maximum period of remand for each application also needs to be restricted to not more 7 days, as it is now in our Criminal Procedure Code, as amended a few years ago.

Let’s not forget the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and the purpose of bail is simply to ensure that the accused person turns up for his/her trial.

The right to Bail should be allowed for all accused persons. The admissibility of evidence and criminal procedure should be the same as for all other criminal trials. Bail amount should be reasonable and not punitive, which is discriminatory against the poor. Prevention of accused persons leaving the country, and even the holding of the passport.

The list of ‘security offences’ in SOSMA need to be diminished to just the most serious of all offences. Certain offences like offences on 'activity detrimental to parliamentary Democracy' offences (Chapter VI sections 124B - 124J of the Penal Code), which is vague ought to be repealed. Offences like possession of books, especially those not banned in Malaysia, should be repealed.

Criminal Compensation Will Ensure Justice to Victims of Administration of Justice

The 12, to date, has languished in detention for more than 4 months, and it is not just the deprivation of liberty and rights, but also would have impacted on one’s income and caused suffering to one’s family, including children. The Public Prosecutor ought not have even charged them in the very first place, as he has now acknowledged there is insufficient evidence and ‘…there is no realistic prospect of conviction for any of the 12 accused on any of the 34 charges…’

Compensation and damages may be a just remedy, rather than a simple remedy. MADPET urges the government to enact a law providing for just compensation for those who are detained or deprived of their liberty, in accordance to the law, but at the end of the day are not charged, acquitted by court and or had their proceedings discontinued by the Attorney General as has happened to these 12.

Repeal of SOSMA will not mean end of trials of those accused of crimes

MADPET reiterates the call for the immediate repeal of Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012(SOSMA).

The repeal of SOSMA will not impact on the charges, as all charged under ‘security offences’, as defined by SOSMA are in fact charged for offences under the Penal Code or other laws, and as such, their criminal trials will continue;

In the interim, MADPET calls for the repeal of Section 13(1) SOSMA that denies the right to bail, which is  a violation of the right to fair trial.

MADPET reiterates its call for the repeal of all draconian laws, including also laws like POCA and POTA that allow for Detention without Trial that denies victims their fundamental right to a fair trial.

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)





AG drops court cases against 12, including DAP reps, accused of supporting LTTE

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 17, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court February 17, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) today announced that the government is discontinuing prosecution of 12 Malaysians it had charged with supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which included two DAP lawmakers.

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said the decision was made after finding insufficient evidence to back its prosecution that would lead to a “realistic prospect of conviction”.

“For these reasons, I have decided that there is no realistic prospect of conviction for any of the 12 accused on any of the 34 charges.

“Accordingly, in the exercise of my discretion pursuant to Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution, 
I have decided to discontinue proceedings against them with immediate effect,” he said in a statement.

Among those charged were Melaka state executive councillor G. Saminathan and a Negri Sembilan state lawmaker P. Gunasekaran.

The DAP duo along with 10 others were accused of posting social media messages or possessing materials related to LTTE founder, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

“That is the common theme of all the 12 LTTE accused. Each of them had in his mobile phone or Facebook account photos of Prabhakaran and other leaders of LTTE slain during the Civil War in Sri Lanka. If such conduct can constitute a criminal offence, it would bring the law into disrepute.

“But even if there were elements of a ‘terrorist act’ on the part of all or any of the 12 LTTE accused by possessing, distributing or displaying such photos or Prabhakaran, it would be impossible for the prosecution to establish that they do not fall within the excluded category of Section 130B(4) of the Penal Code in that they merely constitute ‘advocacy, protest or dissent’,” Thomas explained.

He added that a show of support for famous or infamous personalities is common, but it does not necessarily dictate a person’s actions.

“It is commonplace to have idols to whom hero worship is displayed. It is not just pop stars, sportsmen or actors who are admired: historical personalities and politicians are often the subject of adoration.

“Thus, millions of people across the globe admire Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung or Che Guevara, and the like. Having their photos and other representations in one’s mobile phone or on a Facebook account does not transform one to being a terrorist.

“Just because each of these leaders used terror or violence to achieve their political goals does not mean that an ardent supporter online should be regarded as a terrorist or is planning a terrorist act,” he said. - Malay Mail, 21/2/2020







Twelve allegedly linked to LTTE to be charged in court
Nation
Monday, 28 Oct 2019 9:26 PM MYT

By FARIK ZOLKEPLI





PETALING JAYA: Two DAP assemblymen and 10 other men detained for alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are expected to be charged Tuesday (Oct 29).

Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran and Gadek assemblyman G. Saminathan will be charged along with another man at a court in Ayer Keroh, Melaka.

Lawyer Harshaan Zamani confirmed that the two will be charged.

"We were informed that they will be charged in Ayer Keroh, Melaka," he said when contacted Monday (Oct 28).

Sources said nine other men, who were also detained for alleged links to the terror group are also expected to be charged at a later date.

Two will be charged in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, while the others in Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang.

The 12 men were detained by the Counter Terrorism Division (E8) on Oct 10 and 12 in various parts of the country.

Sri Lanka was embroiled in a 26-year civil war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan military, which saw around 80,000-100,000 people killed.

The civil war ended when Sri Lanka’s military defeated the LTTE in May 2009.

However, over the years, there have been several arrests by authorities against individuals said to be supporting the LTTE, which is labelled as an illegal organisation in Malaysia.

In Malaysia, LTTE was labelled a terrorist organisation under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act in February 2014.

Sri Lanka, the United States, Canada, India and the European Union have also labelled the LTTE a terrorist group. - Star, 28/10/2019

Two Malaysian DAP assemblymen, 8 others charged over alleged links to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

A photo taken on Oct 12 shows Malaysian counter-terrorism police arresting a man said to be a symphatiser of the now-defunct Sri Lankan terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
A photo taken on Oct 12 shows Malaysian counter-terrorism police arresting a man said to be a symphatiser of the now-defunct Sri Lankan terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.PHOTO: MALAYSIAN POLICE
KUALA LUMPUR - Two Democratic Action Party (DAP) assemblymen and a businessman were charged in a Melaka court on Tuesday (Oct 29) over their alleged links to the now-defunct Sri Lankan terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

They were among 12 people detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) after a crackdown three weeks ago on LTTE sympathisers.

Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran, Gadek assemblyman G. Saminathan and businessman S. Chandru claimed trial to a charge under Section 130 of the Penal Code, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment or a maximum of 30 years or a fine, and forfeiture of any property used or intended to be used for the offence, if found guilty.

Saminathan also faces an additional charge of possessing items with elements of terrorist acts or connected to the LTTE. If found guilty, he faces up to seven years in jail or a fine, and forfeiture of any of the items.

Seven others were also charged on Tuesday in Selangor, Perak, Penang and Johor. No plea was recorded and all 10 were denied bail.

The Straits Times understands that the remaining two suspects are expected to be charged on Thursday in Kuala Lumpur.

Under Sosma, the authorities are allowed to detain a suspect for a maximum of 28 days without trial, after the initial 24 hours following the arrest.

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"They have used Sosma and made my husband look like a terrorist when he has not done anything," Ms M. Tamilmalar, the wife of one suspect A. Kalaimughilan, was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini at the Selayang Sessions Court.

The arrests of the assemblymen have raised tensions within the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan that includes the DAP, with claims and counter-claims over their alleged roles in raising funds for LTTE and trying to revive the group.

Opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) have criticised the DAP for becoming a breeding ground for radicals.

PAS has also called for a White Paper on the threat of LTTE elements in the country and for the arrested assemblymen to resign as "all Malaysians reject leaders involved in extremist, terrorist and militant activities".

The LTTE was a separatist group that had been active in Sri Lanka until it was officially defeated in 2009. It has been declared a terrorist group by 32 countries including Malaysia, which did so in 2014.
Police say they have been tracking LTTE's activities in the country since the 1990s and acted independently in the arrests.

Both Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin have denied any influence on the police probe into an alleged move in Malaysia to revive the LTTE. - Straits Times, 29/10/2019


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Japan's Poll - 80 wants death penalty to be retained, but only 52% if death penalty is replaced with imprisonment for life?

Comments:- 

1- Well, if death penalty was replaced with life imprisonment, then only 52% wants to retain the death penalty.

When asked if the death penalty should be kept or abolished in the case that a system of life sentencing without parole was introduced, 35.1% answered that it should be abolished, while 52.0% said it should continue.
2 - Looking at the reason for retaining the death penalty, 'no closure for the victim and victim's family'  was the main reason (over 50%) - So, the question is whether victim's family want the death penalty to get 'closure"? Many members of victim's family do want the death penalty to be abolished...Are we using the IMPLIED feelings of a victim's family member to justify OUR personal decision to retain the death penalty?

3 - 'Life should be compensated with life' is another reason why over 50% wanted the death penalty to be retained. So kill everyone that kills another - chop of the hand of one who cause another to lose an hand. Trump admitted to 'killing' that Iranian - so death penalty for trump?. Is this justice? Is this what you want? Not me - punishment for crime is a 'Yes' - but not life for a life.

4 - The other reason for retaining death penalty, according to this poll was 'if criminal live, they will commit the crime again', well, it would be difficult, nay impossible, to do so if they are incarcerated in prison.

5 - "Violent crimes will increase' - well, that has been proven wrong. Even with a mandatory death penalty, drug trafficking and murder seems to be increasing.  

6. So, do you not believe in repentance, forgiveness and a second chance?

 

Poll Reveals More than 80% Support Death Penalty in Japan

Society
A poll conducted by the Cabinet Office in November 2019 found that 80.8% of Japanese people feel that the death penalty is sometimes necessary.
In a recent opinion poll on the death penalty, 9.0% of Japanese respondents answered it should be abolished in all cases, while 80.8% said that it was necessary in some cases.

The opinion poll was conducted by the Cabinet Office in November 2019, targeted at 3,000 Japanese adults. The poll is held every five years and in the four polls since 2004, support for the death penalty has continuously topped 80%.


Among those who want to see the death penalty abolished (multiple answers possible), the most common, with 50.7%, was that if there is a mistake in the judgment, it cannot be undone.

On the other hand, the most common reason given by those who said that the death penalty was necessary was that the victim’s feelings had to be considered (56.6%).


When asked if the death penalty should be kept or abolished in the case that a system of life sentencing without parole was introduced, 35.1% answered that it should be abolished, while 52.0% said it should continue.

According to the Amnesty International Global Report: Death Sentences and Executions 2018, executions were carried out in 20 countries in 2018, of which the only Group of Seven nations were Japan and the United States. That same year, 15 people were executed in Japan, 13 of whom were Aum Shinriky┼Ź cult leaders who had been involved in the deadly Tokyo subway sarin gas attack in 1995.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

- Nippon.com, 4/2/2020

Friday, February 14, 2020

Minister: Special committee submits report on death penalty alternative sentences(Malay Mail)

* MADPET's position is that the mandatory death penalty should have been abolished - and there was no need to delay abolition until this committee submitted their report. What other reasons will the government have later on for the abolition of the mandatory death penalty, one wonders.. WHY is this report not made public? If made public, others may have chances to make their additional submissions - including agreement or disagreement with the Report...There is no need for cabinet decision whether to release the report or not? After all, Cabinet makes up its own mind ...they may follow the report, maybe some not all, or make a totally different decision...Abolition the mandatory death penalty still retains the death penalty - and judges will have the discretion to decide on appropriate sentences..

 

Minister: Special committee submits report on death penalty alternative sentences

Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty has submitted its report containing recommendations on the matter to the government. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty has submitted its report containing recommendations on the matter to the government. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — The Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty has submitted its report containing recommendations on the matter to the government, today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said the former Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum presented the findings of its comprehensive study contained in the 128-page report to him.

“My office is now studying the contents of the official report as well as the recommendations made by the special committee. In the coming weeks, a Cabinet paper on the findings and recommendations will be tabled before Cabinet for its deliberation.

“All further actions and decisions in respect to the official report and the recommendations therein will be based on a collective Cabinet decision on the matter,” he said in a statement today.

Liew said the special committee held several town halls and public consultations across the country with all segments of society in four months since it began its study on Sept 20, 2019, and concluded on Jan 31, 2020.

Among various public engagements were government and enforcement agencies, religious groups, non-governmental organisations, families of prisoners on death row, prisoners on death row, families of the victims, government and opposition Members of Parliament.

“International experts across the globe including from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom were also consulted.

“I express my heartfelt gratitude on behalf of the government of Malaysia to the special committee for their outstanding effort in reviewing alternative sentences to the mandatory death penalty. It was no easy task,” he said.

Liew also said that the official report was a significant study bound to alter the landscape of the nation’s entire criminal sentencing policy as the government moves to abolish the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia. — Bernama - Malay Mail, 11/2/2020

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Wang Kelian - 130 Who Died Requires Prompt Prosecutions to Ensure Justice be Done -RCI Report’s Delay in Disclosure Unacceptable and Raises Questions-(MADPET)


Media Statement – 14/2/2020

Wang Kelian - 130 Who Died Requires Prompt Prosecutions to Ensure Justice be Done

-RCI Report’s Delay in Disclosure Unacceptable and Raises Questions-

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disappointed at the Malaysian government’s lack of transparency with regard the findings and decisions of the Royal Commission of Inquiry(RCI) into the Wang Kelian tragedy, where at least 130 persons died, whereby the victims allegedly included persons of ethnic Rohingya community of Myanmar and Bangladesh. The full RCI report must be made public immediately.

In March 2015, illegal immigrants' transit camps and 147 mass graves were discovered in Wang Kelian, Perlis.  All in all, the skeletal remains of about 130 people were found.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Malaysian Home Minister, last month on 16/1/2020 was reported saying that the RCI report  on the Wang Kelian human trafficking incident  will be submitted to the Cabinet next week.(New Straits Times, 16/1/2020). Since then, based on media reports, there has been ‘silence’ on the part of the Minister and the government.

The RCI was set up with the consent of Yang di-Pertuan Agong(King) on Jan 29, 2019. In June 2019, it was reported that ‘…The final report and recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the discovery of transit camps and mass graves in Wang Kelian, Perlis, will be presented to Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in early September…’. The RCI’s 17-day inquiry did hear the evidence of 48 witnesses since April 17.(Bernama Report -New Straits Times, 18/6/2020)

MADPET wonders why so long a time has passed since the submission of the report to the King in September. That report, we believe, should have sent to the government at the same time, for, if not, it raises the question as to why there was a delay in it arriving to the Minister and the Cabinet. Surely, it is not the Cabinet that decides whether there will be investigation, prosecution and/or trial of alleged perpetrators of crime.

The RCI report, once completed, should have been made public, and sent speedily to the Cabinet and government for immediate action, including the prosecution of those who committed the crimes or tampered with the evidence.

RCI reports in the past have always been mostly been made public, and this raises the question why this RCI report has yet to be made public.

We recall the disturbing findings following an ‘…exhaustive, two-year investigation by the New Straits Times Special Probes Team into the mass killings in Wang Kelian in 2015 that shook the world, has revealed startling new evidence, which suggests a massive, coordinated cover-up…. One of the biggest revelations was that the human trafficking death camps had been discovered months earlier, but police only announced the discovery on May 25…’(New Straits Times, 20/12/2017)

‘…Another huge question mark was why did police order the destruction of these camps, which were potential crime scenes, before they could be processed by forensics personnel?...’

‘…One shocking discovery was that the authorities, particularly the Perlis police, knew the existence of these jungle camps in Wang Kelian in early January 2015, but had allegedly chosen not to do anything about them until half a year later….’

According to the NST report, ‘…A report lodged by one of the police’s own, identified as ASP J.K. on Jan 19, 2015, at 10.15pm, amongst others, stated ‘… The raiding team saw six cages, where scores of men and women were packed inside under the watchful eyes of foreign men armed with M-16 rifles. The gunmen also conducted roving patrols around the campsite. The team moved in about 4.30pm that day and detained 38 human trafficking victims (22 Bangladeshis and 16 Myanmar).According to the official after-action report, an estimated 150 individuals, who were caged up earlier, had “escaped into the jungle” during the raid. How the men and women managed to “escape” the assault team remains unknown…’

‘…The report also identified a local, suffering from vitiligo — who had been acting as the middleman. Eleven more locals, whose role was to “deliver the goods”, were also identified…’

‘…The report on the Bukit Wang Burma raid stated that the local middleman, who had been taken into custody, had admitted to greasing the palms of personnel in border security agencies to ensure that his operation could continue unmolested. “Many of these agencies are highly involved in human trafficking, and this is a serious trans-border crime that cannot be eliminated by arresting illegal immigrants and deporting them. “For as long as there are authorities working hand-in-glove with these syndicates, eradicating this problem will be an uphill battle,” the document stated…’

The NST Special Probes Team was let in on a March discovery of another camp in Bukit Genting Perah, now known as one of the largest human trafficking camps in the hills here. This startling find was revealed by a team of highly-trained men, including commandos, who were involved in a snatch-and-grab mission… One by one, the commandos would grab and quickly overpower their targets, and then slip stealthily back into the cover of darkness. With all five foreign men in custody, the team regrouped and made their way down the hill….’

The Wang Kelian issue raises also concerns about corruption, which may involve persons tasked with enforcing the law.

What happened to the suspects who were arrested? What happened to the ’38 human trafficking victims’ rescued?  Why was there not a speedy trial, more so since many of these suspects were caught red-handed and the witnesses were available?

The previous Barisan Nasional seems to have failed in ensuring justice be done.

The new Pakatan Harapan government, after coming into power, did act by setting up the Royal Commission of Inquiry but thereafter procrastination and delay in making public the final RCI report raises concern and questions.

MADPET believes that a speedy investigation and prosecution of all suspects involved in crimes, amongst others, murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, torture, corruption, abetment, concealing a design to commit an offence and tampering with evidence, would have been best – more so since it involved foreign victims. This should have been done speedily by the Public Prosecutor, police and relevant enforcement agencies. As time passes, witnesses’ memory fade, and contact with some may also be lost.

No one, including public officers or politicians, should be above the law. Crime does not have any limitation, and all those persons suspected could still be charged now.

There is a concern as to what happened to all the arrested suspects and all potential victim witnesses, included those released from the ‘cages’.

The use of detention without trial laws is not only unjust, but also can be means where the truth could be hidden from the public, especially of the involvement of ‘powerful’ persons and highly ranked officials. Only a public fair trial will suffice.

MADPET wonders whether the lack of speedy investigation and prosecution in Malaysia when the police or other enforcement agencies are involved, as is happening now in the ‘enforced disappearance’ cases of Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat where police officers were implicated, is the position adopted by this new Pakatan Harapan Malaysian government. At the very least, the Public Prosecutor could have made a statement on the status of investigations, even if it was a statement that no one could be charged at the moment due to insufficiency of evidence. This would appease us, knowing that Wang Kelian has not been forgotten.

Wang Kelian happened in 2015, and the new government came into power in mid-2018, which is about 20 months ago.

MADPET urges immediate publication of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report for transparency and accountability demands this. There must be no further delays or ‘cover-ups’;

MADPET urges the Public Prosecutor, police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and other relevant agencies to speedily take action;

MADPET also calls on the Attorney General, who is also the Public Prosecutor, to explain the status of investigation and prosecution of those suspected of crimes related to the Wang Kelian case, as there is no need to wait for any RCI report or Cabinet direction when it comes to enforcing the law and ensuring justice be done;

MADPET also urges that the laws be amended to provide for the cost, including travel and board, to bring back foreign victims/witnesses, if needed, to trials of persons accused of crimes that happened in Wang Kelian.  Non-availability of witnesses by reason of no ‘financial allocation’ should never be a justification for not prosecuting perpetrators of crime;

MADPET is against detention without trial, and urge for speedy fair trial in open court. All Detention without Trial laws must be abolished; and

MADPET applauds the investigative journalism by the New Straits Times Special Probes Team, and hope that more journalist and media agencies will engage in such good practices and expose alleged wrongdoings and injustices that may otherwise be not known to the people, or be subject to maybe ‘a massive, coordinated cover-up’.

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

****

 

[EXCLUSIVE] The secrets of Wang Kelian exposed 

By Farrah Naz Karim And Aliza Shah -

KUALA LUMPUR: An exhaustive, two-year investigation by the New Straits Times Special Probes Team into the mass killings in Wang Kelian in 2015 that shook the world, has revealed startling new evidence, which suggests a massive, coordinated cover-up.

One of the biggest revelations was that the human trafficking death camps had been discovered months earlier, but police only announced the discovery on May 25.

Another huge question mark was why did police order the destruction of these camps, which were potential crime scenes, before they could be processed by forensics personnel?

The in-depth investigation was sparked by a number of burning, unanswered questions that dogged the team, among them, why had the initial discovery of these death camps been kept hush-hush; and who gave the order to sanitise and destroy the crime scene; and, why.

In the hunt for the truth, the team pored over scores of official documents and reams of reports. The team checked and re-checked the facts, sought corroborative witnesses and verified facts through multiple, independent sources — all to build an airtight case.

During the course of this investigation, the team traced and interviewed countless personalities who were directly involved in what had been, and still is, the most horrific case of human trafficking, torture and mass killings to have occurred on our soil.

These sessions also took the team back to the crime scene where evidence of the victims’ torture and suffering, including empty graves, were all around us.

The three-hour hike to the campsites took longer than it should as we were warned of syndicate members who could still be lurking. Communications were strictly in hushed tones.

All told, more than 150 remains of foreigners, believed to be human trafficking victims, had been exhumed from shallow, unmarked graves in Wang Kelian.

Refusing to be a part of what they described as a “systematic cover-up”, our sources opened up on what had really transpired in the dense, unforgiving jungles of Perlis — contradicting the “official version” of events.

The evidence secured by the team supported their story. The sources, including those who were directly involved in the case, had come into the open and claimed that there had been some “serious redacting” in reports and papers filed in the course of investigations.

One shocking discovery was that the authorities, particularly the Perlis police, knew the existence of these jungle camps in Wang Kelian in early January 2015, but had allegedly chosen not to do anything about them until half a year later.

Police, at a press conference announcing the “discovery”, were not ambiguous when they said that they believed the camps were only vacated three weeks prior.

We will never know how many innocent lives could have been saved if they had acted earlier.


The raiding team with foreign men in custody at the camp where the first mass graves were found.

Malaysian authorities, following the discovery of human trafficking camps and mass graves by the Thais on May 1, 2015, checked our side of the border and discovered, on May 24, 139 graves, together with some two dozen similar-looking squalid camps.
‘FIRST CONTACT’ — THE ‘REAL’ VERSION
A report lodged by one of the police’s own, identified as ASP J.K. on Jan 19, 2015, at 10.15pm, stated that two General Operations Force (GOF) men had, during “a routine patrol” at a “dumpsite” somewhere in middle of the jungle of Wang Kelian State Park, had “stumbled on an observation post” on a tree. They probed further and made a second discovery — a trail leading into the Mata Ayer forest reserve.

They called for backup and were joined by a 30-man raiding team. They followed the trail to the top of Bukit Wang Burma.

There, before them, was a 30mx30m campsite. That was the first time a human trafficking racket operating in the Nakawan Range was discovered.

The raiding team saw six cages, where scores of men and women were packed inside under the watchful eyes of foreign men armed with M-16 rifles. The gunmen also conducted roving patrols around the campsite.

The team moved in about 4.30pm that day and detained 38 human trafficking victims (22 Bangladeshis and 16 Myanmar).

According to the official after-action report, an estimated 150 individuals, who were caged up earlier, had “escaped into the jungle” during the raid.

How the men and women managed to “escape” the assault team remains unknown. The armed syndicate members also miraculously joined their captives “and escaped into the jungle”.

According to the report, the camp had been operating for at least six months. The federal police had, on May 25, said some of the 28 camps that had been discovered under Op Wawasan Khas, launched on May 11, had been operating since 2013.

The GOF raiding team’s tactical procedures and protocols were not made clear in the report. The normal practice would be to first establish a cordon sanitaire around the camp periphery to prevent “squirters” from escaping.

Those rounded up were immediately brought down to the Padang Besar police headquarters for processing at 9.30pm.

The next day, the officer who led the assault team met the state deputy police chief.

An order to destroy the crime scene was issued, and the team returned to the site the next day to carry out the instructions.

It was during this mission that the men discovered the first 30 graves.

Jan 19, 2015 was when the Wang Kelian tragedy and the mass graves were discovered; not on May 25, as we were led to believe.

These men later filed an exhaustive report. They said syndicates in Thailand and Malaysia were believed to be working closely in running a lucrative, illicit business virtually unmolested, and fuelled by demand for illegal labour from as far away as Pahang and Johor.

The report also identified a local, suffering from vitiligo — who had been acting as the middleman. Eleven more locals, whose role was to “deliver the goods”, were also identified.


The discovery of foam was an indication that the jungles were inhabited, and this triggered the alarm on the existence of human trafficking camps.
THE CONTRADICTING REPORT

Meanwhile, an independent report from another police team poked holes in the one presented at the meeting with the state’s second-in-command. It also contradicted the police report lodged by ASP J.K.

The new report suggested that the officer in question never dispatched 30 men as claimed, but only eight.

During the operation, the eight-man team was split into two. One was led by the GOF trooper who first suspected that something was amiss, and the other by an officer specially sent in for the mission. They took different routes to the camp, according to the report.

However, the assault team led by the officer never reached the scene. As the other team laid low, waiting, they heard one of the camp guards shouting, “Run! the police are here!”

It was between three and five minutes later that the other team with the officer showed up. The officer had allegedly given an order to pull back.

The report also revealed that the officer who did the briefing on the raid had concealed the fact that the graves were found on that very day, and not as they were destroying the crime scene.

“In fact, the campsite was not fully destroyed. It was very minimal. Only the tents and a portion of the guard posts were burned.”

THE OTHER SHOCKING FIND

The NST Special Probes Team was let in on a March discovery of another camp in Bukit Genting Perah, now known as one of the largest human trafficking camps in the hills here.

This startling find was revealed by a team of highly-trained men, including commandos, who were involved in a snatch-and-grab mission.

The orders that were cut for this secret mission stemmed from the deafening silence that followed the first discovery of the death camps.

Taking position in the dark of night, the small team waited and shadowed their adversaries — the camp guards — waiting for the right moment to pounce.

One by one, the commandos would grab and quickly overpower their targets, and then slip stealthily back into the cover of darkness.

With all five foreign men in custody, the team regrouped and made their way down the hill. The trek back to home base took three hours. Halfway down the challenging terrain, with the suspects in tow, members of the strike team heard gunshots coming from the camp.


This was the first human remains to be discovered near the camp in Wang Kelian.
 
“We knew immediately that the syndicate members had realised that their men were missing, and that their operation had probably been discovered,” a source with direct knowledge revealed.

News of this discovery and the arrest of the five men during the covert ops by the commandos from Perlis was never made public.

The status of the five suspects remains unknown, although the NST Special Probes Team was made to understand that many of them could have been merely charged with immigration offences.

It is also not known if a follow-up raid was ever made.

The report on the Bukit Wang Burma raid stated that the local middleman, who had been taken into custody, had admitted to greasing the palms of personnel in border security agencies to ensure that his operation could continue unmolested.

“Many of these agencies are highly involved in human trafficking, and this is a serious trans-border crime that cannot be eliminated by arresting illegal immigrants and deporting them.

For as long as there are authorities working hand-in-glove with these syndicates, eradicating this problem will be an uphill battle,” the document stated.

For the record, the document was carbon-copied to the state police chief and his deputy, the state National Security Council, the Perlis and Kedah Border Intelligence Unit and the head of the Third Battalion of the GOF, among others.

The NST Special Probes Team had, on one occasion, cornered the Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Noor Rashid Ibrahim to reveal to him what we knew about the case, and if he had any explanation. He listened to every word, but refused to comment. We were stonewalled.

Trying a different tack, the team sent a number of text messages to the then inspector-general of police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar. They, too, went unanswered.

Finally, the team managed to track Khalid down at an event at a bowling alley in the capital, and asked him about Wang Kelian.

After listening to us, Khalid finally relented and agreed to talk, but on one condition — that the conversation not be recorded. His ADC made sure of it.

The team had a number of burning questions, not least of which was why had the discovery of the death camps been kept a secret. What was the overwhelming justification in allowing the slaughter of scores of innocents, including women and children, to continue unabated?

Khalid was visibly apprehensive when confronted with these questions. It took a while before he finally spoke.

And when he did, his voice betrayed the enormity of what he was about to tell us.

The NST Special Probes Team is bound by journalistic ethics in honouring the condition Khalid imposed, which was not to publish what he had told us. - New Straits Times, 20/12/2017
Wang Kelian: Sources keen to unload secrets



A row of graves at the Wang Kelian human trafficking camp, which the raiding party first found.

KUALA LUMPUR: “Do you want to know what really happened in Wang Kelian?”
The voice at the other end of the line spoke in a hushed tone, but the timbre betrayed the deep sense of helplessness.

It took a while to process every lurid detail that came pouring out. It almost didn’t make sense.

The New Straits Times Special Probes Team spent the next two years digging up the darkest, deepest secrets that had long been buried in the quiet hills of Wang Kelian.

Various sources with direct involvement and knowledge of this crime against humanity, which saw more than 150 innocent lives snuffed out, came forward with the real stories.

Their stories matched — right down to the minutest of details.

Their willingness to open up was a desperate act of clearing their conscience.

It was a burden of guilt. Of knowing. A burden they refused to carry to their graves.

Their version of what transpired will likely be disputed. But there is always the right of reply that the team is more than willing to take up.

They spoke about a time in early January 2015, when several personnel with the General Operations Force (GOF) manning the border, noticed something that seemed out of place in an area that was supposed to be uninhabited.

Having noticed the presence of foam, the smell of detergent and waste flowing downstream where they clean up after a patrol, they alerted their superior of their observations.
 
They were told not to worry about it. They figured a more attentive pair of ears would probably be more interested to hear them out, and shared their concerns with other cops.

On Jan 19, an operation was mounted at 11.45am, in connection with the Wang Burma case.

About five hours later, they came down the hill with 38 paperless migrants.

One would assume that a massive sweep of Wang Kelian would be launched to ascertain if there were more human trafficking camps. It is only fair to think that.

So, it is hard to explain why it was only on March 13 that an assault team was brought in, in the middle of the night, on a seek-and-capture mission — at a totally different site in Bukit Genting Perah.

This camp has since been known as one of the biggest human trafficking base camps up in the Nakawan range bordering Thailand. The assault team had been carrying out a sustained surveillance of the area. The tell-tale signs were easy to spot. Where no signs of life were expected, they saw a light trail.

They knew it was the path the victims took to freedom — after they had paid the syndicates, of course. This is the same trail that the authorities, who were later sent in to process the camp, widened to allow a massive clean-up and bring down some of the remains they found in more than 139 graves.

To cut a long story short, the NST Special Probes Team was told that the special strike team hauled in five men believed to be members of a human trafficking syndicate (In an operation carried out on Aug 12, VAT69 commandos and the Perlis Special Branch discovered 20 graves and 24 remains from another camp not far from the ones earlier discovered. Only 18 of the graves had human remains in them, while six skeletons were found inside huts made of bamboo and wood.)

Our team took the trail up to Bukit Genting Perah.

Halfway the two-hour hike up the steep and slippery hill, we stopped to document and photograph a line of now-empty graves.

As the camps began to come into view, we saw an observation post at the entrance. They were facing Malaysia. Not one was built facing the Thai side. There were many more unmarked graves surrounding the camp site.

One could only imagine the suffering hundreds of migrants went through on our soil.

Nothing will be learned about the ordeal suffered by those who died as none of their identities had been established to date. Many of their loved ones back home will be left wondering if they ever made it alive, to a better life.

Authorities on the Thai side had made arrests, including the mayor of Padang Besar.

The Thais also issued around 30 arrest warrants and transferred out 38 senior police, Immigration and marine police officers suspected of having knowledge of the crime, or were involved in it. - New Straits Times, 20/12/2017



KUALA LUMPUR: HERE are some hard questions that need to be answered, which would hopefully clear any nagging suspicions that there was a cover-up in the case of Wang Kelian.
WHY was the discovery of the camps in Bukit Wang Burma on Jan 19 and Bukit Genting Perah on March 13, kept secret?

WHERE is ASP J.K. now? He was the one who led the Jan 19 raid and briefed his superiors about it the next day.

WHY did Perlis police issue the order to destroy the camp a day after the General Operations Force (GOF) reported the discovery? Who issued the order?
Wouldn’t this be construed as tampering with evidence/crime scene?

HOW did the Perlis top cop, who was then close to retirement, or his deputy, react when the discovery of the massive human trafficking camp and mass graves was brought to their attention?

WHY was the camp not immediately cordoned off and the remains exhumed?

WHAT happened to the 38 migrants taken into custody by the assault team? Aren’t they prime witnesses?

WHY were they investigated for immigration offences? Were they not prime witnesses?

WHAT was the tactical approach taken by the elite police force on the Jan 19 raid, which had allowed all the syndicate members and most of the migrants held in several camps, to evade arrest?

FOLLOWING the discovery of the camp in Bukit Wang Burma, why did the GOF not sweep the whole area to see if there were other camps?

WHY are there different accounts of what had happened in the Jan 19 raid in Wang Burma?

SOME locals who were part of the syndicate had been identified. Have they been picked up?

HAVE the police officers suspected of being in cahoots with the syndicates been dealt with under the law, or are they being “disciplined” internally?

THERE were at least two Thai-Malaysia border committee meetings after the Jan 19 raid. Were the discoveries not discussed?

IS there no truth in our expose? Or was Bukit Aman kept in the dark over the discovery of the camp when it said on May 25 that police did not find the camps before May.

WHY were 300 VAT69 commandos sent on a mission on May 11 to locate and verify the existence of these camps under Op Wawasan Khas, when there is already photographic evidence of the Jan 19 raid?

DID Perlis police know that after their Jan 19 raid, the camps were still operating?

In the May 25 press conference, the authorities confirmed that the sites were only vacated three weeks before.

AND the final question — will those behind this heinous crime against humanity be made to pay, and will the men, women and children who died trying to get a second chance at life, ever get the justice owed to them? - New Straits Times, 20/12/2017

RCI report on Wang Kelian to be presented to Cabinet next week

This file pic dated July 27, 2015 shows one of the human trafficking camp found in Bukit Genting Perah, Wang Kelian. -NSTP/Eizairi Shamsudin
PUTRAJAYA: The Home Ministry will present a report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the Wang Kelian human trafficking incident to the Cabinet next week.

In saying this, its minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the commission which concluded their inquiry over the matter, had also presented the report to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

"The RCI has completed their report and it has already been presented to the Agong.

"The ministry will present the report to the Cabinet next week and if the Cabinet agrees, we will allow the report to be made public," he said after attending the ministry's monthly assembly today.

The RCI was set up to look into the March 2015 discovery of illegal immigrants' transit camps and 147 mass graves in Wang Kelian.

All in, the skeletal remains of 130 people, believed to be victims of a human trafficking syndicate, were found buried in the hills of Wang Kelian, Perlis.

The tragedy which involved victims from the ethnic Rohingya community of Myanmar and Bangladesh attracted the attention of the international community.

The RCI panel is led by former chief justice Tun Ariffin Zakaria, with former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Norian Mai as deputy.

Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin mingles with staff after the ministry’s monthly gathering in Putrajaya. -NSTP/Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor.
Meanwhile on the special taskforce to probe the alleged "enforced disappearance" of Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat, a time extension had been requested to conclude the report and submit it to the ministry.

"I was informed that they need slightly more time. I think they requested for a month or so. The chairman of the committee had requested the ministry to allow this and we agreed.

"I hope after the one month extension, they will be able to finish the draft of the report to be submitted to the ministry," he added.

Muhyiddin announced the establishment of the special task force and its six-member team, led by former High Court judge Datuk Abd Rahim Uda in June last year.

This was after Suhakam concluded in its findings that Bukit Aman’s Special Branch was likely behind the disappearances of Koh and Amri.

In 2016, Amri, the co-founder of the Perlis Hope non-governmental organisation (NGO), went out in his vehicle from his home in Kangar, Perlis at about 11.30pm. His vehicle was later found at a construction site in the early hours of the following day.

Koh went missing in 2017 after he was abducted by a group of men while on his way to a friend’s house in Petaling Jaya. - New Straits Times, 16/1/2020

Report on Wang Kelian RCI to be presented to Agong in September

RCI chairman Tun Arifin Zakaria said the commission had two months to prepare the report. --fotoBERNAMA (2019) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA
 

PUTRAJAYA: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to probe into the human trafficking and mass graves in Wang Kelian was concluded today, and the report is expected to be presented before Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah in September.

RCI chairman Tun Arifin Zakaria said the commission had two months to prepare the report.

“This RCI is one of the methods to prepare our report; by gathering information from witnesses who had the knowledge of what actually happened at Wang Kelian.

“After today, the commission will have meetings in order to prepare the report, which will be presented to the King in early September InsyaAllah,” he told reporters after the 17th session today.
Arifin said generally, he was satisfied with the information furnished to the commission.

“We, more or less have exhausted whatever (means) available. (But) of course, if possible we want to get information from witnesses from Thailand. However, we did not get cooperation from Thailand (authorities).

“So, it’s quite difficult and furthermore, we do not have the power to summon them (the witnesses from Thailand),” he said.

Asked on possibility for any new witnesses to be called in, Arifin replied: “No, but generally I am satisfied with whatever information that has been furnished to us.

“The police have tried their level best to assist us.”

He said the commission would also include some recommendations in the report to the government.

“Based on the information that we have gathered, we will give some recommendations for improvement particularly on border control and cooperation with Thailand.”

Asked whether the report will be made public, Arifin said it’s up to the government.

“That’s not our prerogative. Based on the terms of reference, RCI was established to prepare a report to be submitted to the government.”

Meanwhile, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai, who is the RCI deputy chairman, did not rule out the possibility for the police to reopen its investigation into Wang Kelian.

“However, it depends on the findings after discussion with the commission members.

“If there is a need for it (to reopen the investigation), I believe the RCI will recommend as such.”

When asked on his thought of the police force in handling the issue after 17 days of RCI proceedings, Norian said: “I believe, for the time being, it is best for me not to comment on that (as I’m) afraid that it (opinion) will be different from RCI findings. So, I reserve my comment on that,” he said.

The RCI first commenced on Apr 17, with a total of 48 witnesses were called to testify.

The other members of the RCI are former chief prosecutor Datuk Noorbahri Baharuddin, former Suhakam chief commissioner Tan Sri Razali Ismail, former head of research at the Attorney-General’s Chambers Datuk Junaidah Abdul Rahman, former ambassador to Thailand Datuk Nazirah Hussin and former Public Accounts Committee deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw.

The RCI was set up to look into the March 2015 discovery of illegal immigrants, transit camps and 147 mass graves in Wang Kelian.

The skeletal remains of 130 people, believed to be victims of a human trafficking syndicate, were found buried in the hills of Wang Kelian.

The tragedy which involved victims from the ethnic Rohingya community of Myanmar and Bangladesh attracted the attention of the international community. - New Straits Times, 18/6/2019