KUALA LUMPUR: A man has appealed to the government to bring back his 26-year old son who is being imprisoned in Cambodia for an alleged drug trafficking offence.
M Karthigesu claimed that his son, Hemakavin, was duped by a drug trafficking syndicate when he went to Phnom Penh in 2016 before being arrested by the police at a hotel there.
Hemakavin, who was 19 at the time, and his girlfriend had persuaded his father to allow him to travel to the Cambodian capital for a holiday. The girl’s sister and her boyfriend were also supposed to join them.
Karthigesu, a technician, said he initially refused to give permission but gave in to their requests as he trusted his son’s girlfriend.
Hemakavin flew to Cambodia first while the other three claimed that their flight had been delayed as they were having issues with their tickets.
“They asked him to check in at a hotel and said that they would arrive a day later. My son was ambushed just before he entered the room,” Karthigesu claimed at a press conference organised by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) here today.
“The police then passed him a box containing drugs and took a picture of him holding the box. His fingerprints on the box were used as evidence in court.”
Hemakavin, the oldest of three siblings, was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a Cambodian court in 2016.
Karthigesu said he has exhausted all avenues to save his son and appealed to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to raise the issue during his official visit to Cambodia at the end of this month.
Suaram lawyer Farida Mohd questioned Hemakavin’s court hearing, saying it was “shrouded with doubts”.
“The crucial witnesses were not called during the trial. These include the investigating officer, the police officer who arrested him, and expert witnesses like chemists. The person who booked the hotel room was also not called,” she said.
She said Hemakavin had difficulty communicating with the authorities and understanding the court trial, which was in Cambodian, and the interpreter was not well-versed in English.
Charles Santiago, the co-chairman of the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), said the authorities must look into the elements of human trafficking in this case.
“Many young people have been duped into becoming drug mules. It appears that Hemakavin was framed and became a victim of human trafficking,” he said.
Karthigesu said he has run out of funds to fight for his son, though he vowed not to give up as Hemakavin had asked him to keep his hopes alive.
“When I met him at the lockup (in early 2020), he said, ‘Dad, be patient, be strong. One day I will be back’.
“I plead with the Malaysian and Cambodian governments to have some sympathy for my son. I hope he will be back for Deepavali,” he said.