RCI witness contradicts earlier statement on grave-like structures

ASP Joeking Marian Anthony.

PUTRAJAYA: A witness who previously testified in the Wang Kelian royal commission of inquiry (RCI) today contradicted his earlier statement, saying he did in fact know of the grave-like structures found by his team at the top of Wang Burma hill during a raid on a human trafficking transit camp there on Jan 19, 2015.

ASP Joeking Marian Anthony also said he had briefed a monthly meeting with the then-deputy police chief of Perlis about the discovery the next day.

In his earlier testimony, Joeking, the fifth witness in the RCI, said he had only briefed the deputy state police chief about the raid carried out by 10 of his men on the jungle camp, the detention of 38 illegal immigrants at the foot of the hill, and the discovery of a possible human trafficking site.

He told the RCI that he only found out about the graves after receiving instructions to destroy the site.

“I did not do any briefing, but I did receive a question by the Padang Besar district police chief on whether or not I found graves. I said I did not go up and see them for myself, so I did not know,” he told the inquiry today.

He added however that he might have mentioned that there were grave-like structures. “I told them it was hearsay from my men who went to the top of the hill, that there were structures that looked like graves.”

Former Perlis deputy police chief Muhd Zukir Muhd Isa, the 14th witness in the RCI, previously said Joeking had briefed him about the structures after being interrupted by then-head of the Padang Besar district police headquarters, Rizani Che Ismail, who said Joeking had “left something out” during his briefing.

Joeking was the commander of Company B at Battalion 3 of the General Operations Forces (GOF).

The RCI today also revealed that during a closed hearing, the first witness, Corporal Mat Ten, who was recalled to give another statement last week, said Joeking had scolded him for calling him about an arrest he made on six more illegal immigrants he had stumbled upon by chance.

He said he came across them while refuelling his motorcycle at a Caltex station in Wang Kelian on Jan 19, the same day as the jungle camp raid.

Former chief justice Arifin Zakaria, who leads the panel, read Mat Ten’s statement during the hearing.

He said Mat Ten had told the inquiry: “Joeking said ‘You are really stupid. I told you not to look for them.’ I (Mat Ten) said to him ‘How was I looking for them sir, they were walking, so I called.’ I wasn’t looking for them, but I got scolded, how was I supposed to do my job?”

When Arifin asked Joeking for confirmation, he denied reacting in that manner.

“I don’t believe it. It’s not right. If I was informed about the arrests, surely I would have asked him to lodge a report,” he said.

Meanwhile, former inspector-general of police Norian Mai, who is also on the panel, asked him about statements from previous witnesses who claimed that Joeking was always in the northern states even when he was not stationed in the area.

Joeking denied this, calling it a false accusation.

The company commander previously told the inquiry that different groups of GOF personnel would work in Wang Kelian and other posts in the north on a rotating basis each month.

SAC Azari Hj Abd Rahman, the head of the police forensics department and the 37th witness in the inquiry, said they had identified six areas containing graves which needed to be uncovered.

He said the areas were categorised as Sectors A, B, C, D, E and F.

Sector A had six human remains that were left in the open instead of being buried, he said.

His team also identified 37 grave-like structures in Sector B, 24 in Sector C, 20 in Sector D, 40 in Sector E and seven in Sector F.

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.

Noorbahri Baharuddin, Razali Ismail, Junaidah Abd Rahman, Nazirah Hussain and Tan Seng Giaw are on the panel, along with Arifin and Norian, while Yusran Shah Yusof is the secretary of the RCI.

Closed-door hearings continue tomorrow, while public hearings will continue after Hari Raya.