Marine police arrest 75 illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka

PENANG: Penang police and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detained a boat ferrying 75 illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka two days ago in the waters of Tanjung Piandang, Kerian after failing to negotiate with them, here, yesterday.

REFUSED TO EXIT BOAT: Some of the 75 immigrants on board the fishing trawler at Batu Uban Marine base. — Bernama photo

REFUSED TO EXIT BOAT: Some of the 75 immigrants on board the fishing trawler at Batu Uban Marine base. — Bernama photo

State police chief Datuk Ayub Yaakob said a team from the Penang Marine Operations Force had detained the boat while patrolling the area at 3am on Friday.

He said on checking the boat which broke down, it was found carrying 75 illegals comprising 61 men, six women, two boys and six girls, aged between five and 60.

“They were sent to the Batu Uban marine jetty, here, at 6.40pm but they refused to exit the boat and threatened to jump into the water,” he told reporters yesterday.

“However, after several rounds of negotiation and unable to meet many of  their demands as it would involve other countries, the police had to remove them from the boat and bring them to shore at 11.40am today.”

Ayub said the police had obtained help from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to continue negotiations with them.

“Our initial investigation found that the illegals left their country with plans to smuggle themselves into a third country, Australia, and among their demands was the assurance that they could go to any country and be accepted there,” he said.

The illegals have been sent to the Immigration detention depot in Juru for 14 days pending further action. — Bernama

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