PUTRAJAYA: The VAT 69 commando search operation in the jungles of Genting Perah, Perlis, in March 2015, led to the discovery of a transit camp with 14 tents that were used by illegal immigrants, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the camps and mass graves at Wang Kelian heard.
The 17th witness, Insp Mohamad Afiq Sarmid, from VAT 69 based in Ulu Kinta, Perak, said the team also arrested five illegal immigrants about 200m from the camp.
He said the operation, involving 24 personnel, was carried out following the discovery of a transit camp and graves at Bukit Wang Burma in January 2015, with the team tasked to confirm if there was a settlement of illegal immigrants in Genting Perah.
“It took time for us to reach the place and we only found the place on the third day, which was March 13, 2015,” he said, adding that he was instructed by the Intelligence Staff Officer to lead the operation.
Insp Mohamad Afiq, who is now VAT 69 Delta Squadron assistant commander, said all the tents discovered by the team were old ones as only the frames remained.
Following the discovery of the camp, he said the team combed nearby areas and found five foreigners walking in the woods.
A search was conducted on them, following which a pistol and a knife were found on two Thai nationals, while no weapon was found on the other three, who are Rohingya, but they did not have valid travel documents.
Insp Mohamad Afiq said he then contacted the commanding officer at the Tactical Headquarters and was instructed to come down and hand over the evidence, as well as the five foreigners, to the Special Branch division at the Perlis police contingent headquarters.
Questioned by RCI deputy chairman Tan Sri Norian Mai on why no grave was found during the operation, Insp Mohamad Afiq said he was just following instructions and the objective of the operation was to detect the presence of illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, the 18th witness, Insp Mohd Husyairi Musa, who was ordered to bring the illegal immigrants to the Padang Besar district police headquarters, said the foreigners were handed over to him at a rubbish dumping ground at the Perlis National Park at about 5pm on March 13, 2015.
Insp Mohd Husyairi said the foreigners were handed over to him with their hands bound and after another search, a brown bag containing RM410 and 100 Thai baht were found. — Bernama