Cop tells RCI he was taken off operations after finding graves

DSP Sivanganam Thirumugam of the Northern Brigade Intelligence Unit.

PUTRAJAYA: A police officer told the royal commission of inquiry into mass graves in Wang Kelian that he was forbidden by his superior from participating in any operation of the General Operations Force (GOF) after leading a team which found graves in a jungle camp in 2015.

DSP Sivanganam Thirumugam of the Northern Brigade Intelligence Unit also said an anonymous caller had told him that locals were involved in human trafficking and that he subsequently filed reports detailing this to his superiors and even to Suhakam.

Sivanganam said he was the ground commander overseeing operations when a police team went to demolish the Wang Burma camp on Jan 21, 2015.

The sixth witness at the RCI said his superior, named as “Datuk Nasir”, had forbidden him from joining any other operation of the GOF after this operation to destroy the camp. He did not say why.

“The Wang Kelian operation was my last operation. Instructions are instructions. I did not dare to challenge them.”

He said 38 illegal immigrants were detained at the Wang Burma hill in a raid on Jan 19, in which he did not participate.

But the following day, he received an anonymous call from a civilian at Wang Kelian informing him about a human trafficking syndicate which sent illegal immigrants from the Wang Burma hill area to other parts of the country.

“He (the caller) also told me of kampung folk who were involved in transporting the illegal immigrants from Wang Kelian to other parts of the country.”

The caller also told him of one middleman, named “Aziz” or “Azim”, who had a skin disease and owned a shop at a shopping arcade.

He said he went to Wang Kelian and managed to identify the middleman but he did not speak to him or investigate further.

He returned and filed an “incident report” detailing the conversation and his trip to Wang Kelian to his commanding officer at the Northern Brigade Intelligence Unit.

He also sent copies to the Perlis chief police officer, Kedah chief police officer, the border intelligence unit of Kedah and Perlis, his unit’s headquarters, the National Security Council and Suhakam.

“I passed the information to the brigade for them to do a study and launch further operations,” he said, adding that he had no power to conduct his own operation.

He told the inquiry he did not know how big the alleged syndicate was.

Meanwhile, during the demolition of the camp, which was ordered by the deputy Perlis police chief, he told his colleague ASP Joeking a/l Marian Anthony to stop burning the camp when they found some graves at the site.

“After finding the graves, I said this was not proper. I asked them to stop and let the district police headquarters to investigate,” he said.

He said he was unaware of any procedure for destroying such a camp, adding that this was his first such operation.

The RCI was set up by the home ministry to look into the discovery of mass graves and human trafficking camps at Wang Kelian in 2015.

Former chief justice Arifin Zakaria leads the inquiry panel. Other panel members are former inspector-general of police Norian Mai, Noorbahri Baharuddin, Razali Ismail, Junaidah Abd Rahman, Nazirah Hussain and Tan Seng Giaw. Yusran Shah Yusof is the secretary of the RCI.

The public hearing continues on April 22.