KUALA LUMPUR, April 22 — The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officer nabbed in the US last week for allegedly trying to smuggle a gun back to Malaysia will now face just one charge for possession instead of the initial four, the Malaysian Defence Ministry’s Air Base said today.
According to the base, US prosecutors had initially planned to press four charges against RMAF Major Mohd Faiz bin Abdul Jalil.
“But now, he is only charged with one offence, that is a non-immigrant in possession of a weapon and/or ammunition,” the base said in a brief statement.
Mohd Faiz’s trial was initially fixed for April 21 but has since been postponed to a later date to be determined by the Lubbock court in Texas, the statement said.
It said that Mohd Faiz had been shifted from Texas’s Taylor County Jail to the Lubbock County Jail, Texas on April 21.
The defence base added that the RMAF will focus its attention on the welfare of Mohd Faiz’s family, especially in the midst of this “difficult” time.
“Meanwhile, the Malaysian Defence Attache’s Office in Washington is now closely monitoring the developments of this case and will inform the Defence Ministry of every development in the officer’s case for further action,” it added.
On Sunday, the RMAF confirmed that one of its officers had been detained last Wednesday by US officials at Texas’s San Angelo Airport for allegedly trying to smuggle a Taurus PT-22 pistol out of the US and back to Malaysia.
RMAF said he was scheduled to fly back to Malaysia on April 16 after completing a course at the GoodFellow Air Force Base that he had attended since January 5, 2014.
On April 16, Mohd Faiz had been scheduled to fly from Mathis Field Airport in San Angelo, with a connecting flight in Dallas, and then from Dallas to Kuala Lumpur, according to a report by US news site bigcountryhomepage.com.
According to the report, a US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent found the gun after his suspicions were aroused following an X-ray scan of Major Mohd Faiz’s baggage.
The TSA agent found the dismantled parts of a .22 calibre Taurus PT-22 pistol and a magazine with eight bullets hidden in various guises in his baggage, bigcountryhomepage.com reported.
San Angelo police officers and TSA agents subsequently escorted Major Mohd Faiz off the aircraft.
The RMAF major told the agents he had hidden the weapon so the Malaysian government would not find it when he arrived back in Kuala Lumpur.
According to the report, Homeland Security agents interviewed him and found he had been in the United States legally since January 5 on a Diplomatic Visa for the purposes of military training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo.
The RMAF man reportedly bought the pistol while attending a gun show in Sweetwater, Texas, with two other students from the Air Force base.
He told authorities two other vendors refused to sell him a gun since he was not a US citizen, but a third vendor did agree to sell him the weapon for US$200 (RM653), and the RMAF major said the vendor did not ask him to fill out any paper work.