PUTRAJAYA: The mass graves in Wang Kelian were only discovered on the day the General Operation Force (GOF) carried out orders to destroy an illegal settlement camp in Perlis, a witness told the Royal Commission of Inquiry on human trafficking and mass graves in Wang Kelian.
Fifth witness ASP Joeking M. Marian Anthony told the commission that he halted the operation to destroy the camp when they stumbled upon graves in the area on Jan 21, 2015.
Joeking, who was then serving as company commander B of Batallion 3 northern brigade GOF, said they did not proceed with the order to destroy when they discovered the graves.
He said the order to destroy the camp was given by the then Perlis deputy police chief during a monthly meeting at the state police headquarters on Jan 20, a day after the GOF team nabbed 38 migrants in the area.
ASP Joeking and his superior, field commander DSP S. Sivanganam, led a 30-member team to carry out the order but stopped about 40 minutes later when they discovered stretchers believed to be used to ferry cadavers and graves at the site.
"At the time, we had only burnt canvas and food. The observation posts were left intact," he said.
To a question by panel member Tan Seng Giaw on the reasons behind the destruction of the camp, ASP Joeking said illegal camps were normally destroyed to prevent others from occupying them.
He said the Padang Besar OCPD at the time asked if they had found any graves when his men first raided the area on Jan 19.
"I told him I was not sure, as I did not see it myself (then)," he said.
To a query by RCI conducting officer Khairul Anwar Abdul Halim on whether there were any prior briefing on mass graves, ASP Joeking said, "No".
He said they took photographs of the illegal settlement camp and mass graves on Jan 21 that year, and that he had handed over copies of these along with a report on their findings to the Padang Besar district police for further action.
However, sometime in March or April the same year, he received orders from the battalion commander to delete all the photographs.