Wang Kelian RCI hears of police's accidental discovery of trafficking camp

Witness Mat Ten is pictured at the RCI’s public hearing of the Wang Kelian human-trafficking camps and mass graves in Putrajaya on April 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Witness Mat Ten is pictured at the RCI’s public hearing of the Wang Kelian human-trafficking camps and mass graves in Putrajaya on April 17, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, April 17 — Two policemen told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issue of human trafficking and mass graves in Wang Kelian today of their chance discovery of the camps while on routine patrols in 2015.

At today’s public hearing at the Home Ministry’s Dewan Gemilang, Corporal Mat Ten and Sergeant Yusof Islam Hassan related their experience in the jungles of Wang Kelian in 2015 that would later turn out to be a massive human trafficking site.

Mat, who is part of the General Operations Forces (PGA), told the inquiry he found a path within the shrubbery with fresh human tracks while patrolling with a colleague on January 18 that year, and wanted to investigate further.

As they walked, he said the track led to a stream where he noticed soap bubbles coming from upstream.

“I went up further and saw a woman washing clothes in the stream, and another man lying in a hammock near the camps.

“We did not engage with them and returned to inform our superiors of what we saw,” he answered when questioned by Conducting Officer Saiful Hazmi Mohd Saad.

Mat described the location as an intricate network of makeshift camps, with wooden pathways, boxed in by four guard towers each manned by a person.

He said upon sighting the woman, he came down to the Wang Kelian police station and alerted his superiors who then ordered a team of 10 officers to return to the spot to survey the entire area the next day.

“We were approaching the camp with the team when I heard what sounded like someone receiving a text message on their mobile phone and noticed the woman I spotted earlier checking her phone

“Almost immediately, the woman shouted polis sampai (police are here), triggering chaos as everyone within the camps scrambled and fled the scene into the jungles,” he said.

Mat said he did not know what was contained in the text message that alerted the woman.

Before the panel chaired by former chief justice Tun Arifin Zakaria and seven others, Mat also recounted how six foreigners kept captive within the camps, who were found hungry and weak, were then arrested brought to their station for processing that night.

Meanwhile, Yusof Islam, a platoon Section Commander, said he was also part of the 10-man team that scaled the hills of Wang Burma later that day to the campsite.

Yusof Islam said the area was cordoned off with barbwire and contained food products like rice, anchovies, cans of sardines and cooking oil, along with plates, basins and utensils believed to be used to feed the trafficked individuals.

When asked if the operation at Wang Burma was purely for surveillance or a raid, Yusof Islam said he was informed that it was only an operation to map the area concerned.

“We entered the area just to survey it, but if they had tried to flee, we would have arrested them,” he said.

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