12 cops arrested over Perlis migrant mass graves

A police forensic team transport body bags with human remains at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia May 27, 2015. ― Reuters pic
A police forensic team transport body bags with human remains at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia May 27, 2015. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 ― A dozen police officers have been arrested over suspected collusion with human traffickers who used smuggling camps in Padang Besar, Perlis, as a transit point to hold migrants.

Deputy home minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told Parliament this during an emergency motion on the matter, saying authorities were currently investigating the extent of the involvement of the police officers in human trafficking after 139 mass graves were uncovered in the northern state close to the Thai border.

“12 police officers have been arrested, four by the police and eight by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC),” Wan Junaidi told a press conference later.

“Investigations are still underway to determine whether they (police officers) are directly involved or just facilitators..this has yet to be determined,” he added.

The discovery in Padang Besar of nearly 140 mass graves and nearly 30 suspected people smuggling camps came after repeated denials of their existence by government officials.

During the debate on the emergency motion, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs demanded that a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) be formed to look into the discovery of mass graves in Perlis.

But Wan Junaidi said the matter would be decided by the federal government.

Earlier today, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police do not expect to uncover additional mass graves of human trafficking victims in Malaysia.

He said his force has carried out a comprehensive screening and combing of the entire length of the wall along the Malaysia-Thailand border and did not detect any trace of similar activity.

Over the weekend, security forces discovered mass graves near some 17 tents set up in a remote location in Padang Besar, believed to have been used by human traffickers as a transit point to hold migrants that generally come from Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The find comes at a time when Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are struggling to deal with up to 20,000 mostly ethnic Rohingya migrants left adrift on boats in Southeast Asia’s seas, in what the United Nations described as a humanitarian crisis.

Last week, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to provide humanitarian assistance to the thousands migrants still adrift at sea, including offering temporary shelter, provided that the international community takes steps to repatriate them within a year.

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