I was told to stop investigating after finding a body, says cop in Wang Kelian inquiry

PUTRAJAYA: A witness in the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the human trafficking camps and graves in Wang Kelian today said he was told to stop investigations following the discovery of a body in one of the graves on a hill in Wang Burma.

ASP Junaidy Md Saad, who was the acting head of the Criminal Investigation Department at the Padang Besar district police headquarters from 2014 to 2016, said he received the instruction from the district police chief himself.

However, taking the stand later, former Padang Besar district police chief Rizani Che Ismail clarified that the order to halt investigations pending further instructions had come from Bukit Aman.

Junaidy, the eleventh witness in the inquiry, said he was the investigating officer in a case reported by ASP Joeking Marian Anthony on Jan 22, 2015 regarding 38 illegal immigrants detained in a raid at the Wang Burma hill and the grave-like structures found near the camp.

He said that was the first time he had heard of such a case.

According to him, he was told by his superior on Jan 23, 2015, to visit the area for surveillance, to get a rough layout of the landscape, to look out for the grave structures, and to take photographs of the site.

He said he did not continue investigating after that as he was awaiting further instructions from his superiors.

“I felt the case needed further action by a bigger team. I was not brave enough to take any sort of action on my own, as I felt that this was a big case which attracted a lot of attention,” he added.

A month and a half later in March, he said, he was instructed by the district police chief to re-visit the site with a forensic team from the Perlis police headquarters.

“On March 6, 2015, I and a forensic team from the Perlis state police headquarters, which was led by Inspector Bahar and I, alongside officials from the Special Branch, and the Padang Besar district police chief himself, visited the site.

“Before we went up, there was a talk given by the then-district police chief, saying that the mission was to dig out one of the grave-like structures to confirm if they really contained bodies.”

He said the forensic team had dug approximately 30cm into one of the structures before he saw a white cloth like the kind usually used to wrap dead bodies. He said the cloth was still in good condition while the body had started decomposing although it remained intact.

Junaidy said the forensic team had reburied the body after taking photographs of it.

“The mission was to see if there was a body in the grave or not,” he said. “If there was, the instruction given was to rebury the body.”

He said he first suspected elements of crime and human trafficking after interviewing and recording statements from the 38 immigrants detained by Joeking’s team at the foot of Wang Burma hill.

With the help of a translator who spoke both Myanmarese and Bangladeshi, he said, he found that most of them were brought to the area by other individuals. However, they did not tell him how many individuals were involved.

They also told him they came in a boat which could fit 300 people, and had stayed at the temporary camp for four to five days.

He said the translator was a Myanmarese who had married a local. When asked if the translator could be part of the syndicate, he said he was not sure.