People smugglers sent to jail

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KUCHING: Four local men aged from 27 to 31 were sent to prison by the High Court after they pleaded guilty to smuggling 17 Indonesian migrants into the country last January.

Judicial Commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai today sentenced Mohamad Hadi Abdul Karim Boon, 30, and Fery Alam, 31, to three years in prison.

Fellow convicts, Robert Erni, 27, and Joshua Sidi, 27, were each sentenced to two years in prison.

The court ordered all the men to serve their prison sentences starting from the date of their arrest on January 11.

According to the charges, all of them were alleged to have jointly intended to smuggle migrants at a hotel at Jalan Datuk Amar Kalong Ningkan about 1 am on January 11.

All of them were charged under Section 26A of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM) 2007 read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code.

On conviction they can be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding 15 years or a fine or both.

According to the facts of the case, a police team from the Sarawak Brigade General Operations Force (GOF) raided a hotel in connection with people smuggling.

Mohd Hadi, Robert and Joshua were outside the hotel while Fery was reported to be in a room.

It was found that all the immigrants were in transit hotels before heading to their respective destinations, namely, Bintulu and Sibu.

Further investigation found that all the migrants entered Malaysia to work and were managed by different agents and guided by unknown individuals.

They were instructed to wait for three different vehicles to pick them up at the Indonesia-Malaysia border before being taken to the hotel.

Fery is the individual responsible for picking them up and dealt with Mohd Hadi, Robert and Joshua to take the immigrants to the hotel.

Eight other immigrants were brought in by their agents through an illegal route by Mohd Hadi, Robert and Joshua.

An inspection by the Malaysian Immigration Department (JIM) found that there were no entry records for the eight immigrants, while the other nine were found to have overstayed in the country after the expiration of the visit passes.

As such, the court held that Joshua and Robert played less of a significant role in the offence compared to Fery and Mohd Hadi.

The smugglers were prosecuted by Deputy Public Prosecutor Ruthra Raj while all the accused were represented by lawyer Abdul Rahman Mohd Hazmi.

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