Moroccan claims assault, theft during detention at KLIA

Smini says that he was assaulted by three immigration officers and had his watch stolen. — Picture courtesy of Zakaria Smini
Smini says that he was assaulted by three immigration officers and had his watch stolen. — Picture courtesy of Zakaria Smini

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 ― A Moroccan graduate alleged today that Malaysian Immigration officers had beaten him up and stolen his watch during his detention at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) last week.

Zakaria Smini, a 26-year-old who was then studying business administration at a college here, said he was told that he was blacklisted for overstaying in Malaysia by almost a month in February 2012 upon his arrival on December 5, after which he was detained until December 8.

“I was hit by another officer at the night shift. He hit me with a long stick that they have in the office,” Smini told The Malay Mail Online in an email interview today.

He added that he was assaulted by two other Immigration officers — a woman and a man — and that a male Immigration official stole his watch before he was deported back to Morocco.

According to Smini, he had come to Malaysia to attend job interviews in the city involving language work; he said he was conversant in English, Arabic, French and Spanish.

He also blamed his overstay last year on his college that he said failed to renew his visa in time, after his time in Malaysia from September 2008 to February 2012.

“My visa was going to end in December 2011. I gave it to the college to renew my visa in November. The department was lazy and didn’t make it quick, so in that time, the delay happened,” said Smini, adding that the college had only given him a one-month additional visa as his passport was valid for less than six months.

“By the time I changed my passport and got back, I overstayed and had to leave. I overstayed nearly a month,” he added.

Smini said that during his three-day detention at KLIA, he was placed in a “very dirty” room with other detainees, where he was forced to sleep on the floor. There were no showers, no food or water, but only “dirty” toilets.

“It was a jail,” he said.

The 26-year-old, who later graduated with a business management degree from the University of Wales in UK, also wrote about his experiences on his blog, zakariasmini.wordpress.com.

In a post titled “A week in the Malaysian hell” on December 9, he wrote that he was unable to buy food with his US currency as he was told that only Malaysian ringgit was accepted.

“I didn’t eat the whole day. I only drink from the toilet whenever I feel stomach pain... Thanks to some refugees, I got a piece of chocolate bread to eat. Better than nothing at that moment,” Smini wrote.

“So many people, bad smells, bed bugs and cockroaches everywhere. You will never believe it was Malaysia and whatever they show in TV. I couldn’t sleep,” he added.

Smini told The Malay Mail Online that his phone was taken by the authorities and that he was prohibited from calling a lawyer.

He added that he was unable to lodge a police report over the alleged assault.

“It was a jail and I couldn’t make it to KL. I didn’t even see my friends that were outside the Immigration office,” he said.

Smini said that he was later deported on December 8 at 8pm and had to pay US$1,100 (RM3,546) for his flight ticket.

He added that his baggage was returned only today, but not his watch.

“I’m now writing from the plane back to my country, full of sadness and disappointment, still crying from now and then when I remember something,” Smini wrote on his blog.

“I hate hating Malaysia but that’s what inside of me. Malaysia you hurt me so deep inside. Mentally, physically and financially,” he added.

Smini said that before his detention, he had considered Malaysia a home, “a place that I always loved”, and “a place that I belong”.

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