PUTRAJAYA: The list of suspected masterminds behind the hijacking of Malaysian Oil Tanker MT Orkim Harmony has been narrowed down, said Maritime Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar (pic).
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency deputy-director general (operations) said they now had an idea of the identity of the mastermind behind the hijacking of the oil tanker on June 11.
"The is not the first case as there have been a few cases previously. We have narrowed down the scope (of suspected masterminds). It is a jigsaw puzzle we have to fix and we need to firm up our evidence," he told reporters at the MMEA headquarters in Putrajaya here.
Ahmad Puzi did not rule out the possibility that the mastermind was behind six other hijacking cases in Malaysian waters this year.
He added, however, that there was not enough evidence to link the incidents, and they hoped to get a clearer picture from the eight MT Orkim Harmony hijackers under detention by Vietnamese authorities.
Ahmad Puzi added that the perpetrators had used satellite communication devices during the incident which gave away leads to investigators.
"We have been able to extract (valuable) information from this," he said, adding they were in contact with the mastermind.
Ahmad Puzi added they were currently negotiating with Vietnam, through the Foreign Ministry, to extradite the eight suspects but did not say how long the process would take.
The tanker – owned by Magna Meridian Sdn Bhd and carrying 6,000 tonnes of petrol worth RM21mil belonging to Petronas – went missing on June 11 en route from Malacca to Kuantan Port.
Authorities then detected the vessel in Vietnamese waters and said the MT Orkim Harmony had been repainted and renamed "Kim Harmon" by the pirates.
Eight suspects, all Indonesian nationals, were then arrested in Vietnamese waters near Tho Chu Island after they reportedly fled the tanker on a rescue boat on Thursday.