Written by Nathasha De Alwis
07 May, 2018 | 12:20 am
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Malaysian police have intercepted a tanker with 131 Sri Lankans believed bound for Australia and New Zealand. According to the Royal Malaysian Police, authorities halted the modified tanker on Tuesday (May 1) off the coast of southern Johor state.
Malaysian National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the immigrants included 98 men, 24 women, four boys and five girls. Police also raided a fishing boat used to transport the migrants to the vessel and detained three Indonesians and four Malaysians on board. Another five Malaysians were nabbed for suspected involvement in the smuggling syndicate.
National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said: “With these arrests, the Royal Malaysia Police has successfully foiled a large and cunning human smuggling syndicate.”
A total of 127 Sri Lankans will be charged for entering Malaysia illegally while nine Malaysians, four Indonesians and four Sri Lankans will be investigated for human smuggling.
According to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia, A. J. M. Muzammil, they Sri Lankans were traveling on a ship named Etra and have been arrested under the immigration act of 159 /63. He added a majority of the group are individuals with Tamil names, posses a Sri Lankan passport and that around 43 of them are in possession of UNHCR identity cards.
High Commissioner Muzammil noted that officials will be dispatched to Johor tomorrow in order to look into the situation.
Issuing a media release the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka said, at present, investigations are still underway, and officials of the Sri Lanka High Commission in Malaysia are working closely with the relevant Malaysian authorities in this connection.
The media release says further information regarding the individuals arrested will be shared when available, and as appropriate, respecting the need to ensure that information thus shared does not jeopardize the investigations that are presently underway.
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