KOTA KINABALU: Police are probing deeper into the deaths of three divers – a local diving instructor and two Chinese tourists – in what is believed to be a fish-bombing incident in Semporna.
Investigators are taking a closer look at the background of the boatman and his assistant who were arrested after the tragic incident at a dive site off Pulau Kalapuan.
Although the duo are not being treated as prime suspects, it is learnt that police are vetting them as they are related to 30-year-old diving instructor Ab Zainal Abdu.
Zainal, a Filipino refugee holding the special IMM13 Immigration pass, was killed along with Zhao Zhong, 26, and Xu Yingjie, 26, while diving between 2.30pm and 3.30pm on July 5.
Questions are being raised on why the boatman and assistant left the dive site after dropping off the trio.
They apparently did not drop a buoy to signal to other mariners that there were divers in the area.
The boatman and assistant were among dozens including sea gypsies, or bajau laut, who have been arrested in connection with the case.
The deaths have sent shockwaves through the Sabah tourism and diving sectors.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said police did not rule out premeditated murder.
He added that they were looking at all angles.
Omar said the duo had told police that the diving instructor had instructed them to return to Kalapuan base to collect oxygen tanks.
The police chief however said it was not standard operating procedure to leave an area where diving was taking place.
Omar said raids had been conducted to find other suspects and fish bombs, and those involved in fish-bombing activities.
He said the focus was on the fish-bombing aspect although no one had heard any explosion at that time.