Farm workers released on charge of harbouring smuggled migrants

SHAH ALAM (Bernama): The High Court here acquitted and discharged two farm workers on Monday (Sept 27) on a charge of harbouring three smuggled migrants last year.

Judge Datuk Mohd Yazid Mustafa ordered the release of S.Ramachandran, 30, and Azhar Rofani, 24, after finding the prosecution having failed to establish a prima facie case against them.

The two men were charged with harbouring the migrants, all of them Indonesians who were smuggled into the country, at Ladang Tumbok, Tanjung Sepat, Kuala Langat, near here, at 10.15pm on July 23, 2020.

They were charged under Section 26H(1)(a) of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act, which provides an imprisonment for up to 10 years, or fine, or both, if found guilty.

When handing down the decision, Mohd Yazid said the prosecution had failed to establish that the two accused had provided protection to the three migrants, such as providing them any form of assistance, like food, clothing or weapon.

"In the charge, it is only stated protecting the migrants, the 'limb' (details) is not stated. It is my finding that the failure to include any 'limb' violates the mandatory provision of Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” Mohd Yazid added.

The judge said the court also took note of the migrants’ statements that the two accused were not the ones who protected and gave instructions to them at the farm.

The prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor Mary Phoon Keat Me, while the two accused were represented by lawyers Haresh Mahadevan and Intan Athirrah Mad Pazir. - Bernama

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