Businessman with ‘Datuk’ title charged with human trafficking

PETALING JAYA, Dec 8 — A businessman with a ‘Datuk’ title was charged at the Sessions Court here today with eight counts of trafficking Indonesian nationals who were forced to work as restaurant workers.

Datuk Baruddin Hamzah, 41, however, pleaded not guilty and claimed trial after the charges were read to him before Judge Mohamad Kamil Nizam.

The man, who has four wives, was charged with trafficking seven men and a woman from Indonesia, aged between 25 and 35, for the purpose of forced labour.

He was alleged to have committed the offences at the Puchong Gateway Business Centre at No 73-1, Jalan Suria Puchong 2, Puchong Serdang, at 11.40 am on Nov 29.

Each charge under Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, carries a maximum jail term of 15 years and fine upon conviction.

Immigration Department prosecuting officer Aiza Khairuddin proposed to the court for all eight charges to be tried together and for the accused not to be allowed bail as the offences were serious.

“However, if the court allows it, I would like to propose bail of RM10,000 for each charge,” she said.

Lawyer Shaari Nor representing Baruddin, however, appealed for bail of RM10,000 for all charges on grounds that his client was suffering from heart ailment.

“Besides, my client has to support four wives and 13 children,” Shaari said.

The court allowed Baruddin bail of RM40,000 for all charges with one surety and set Dec 23 for remention of the case.  — Bernama