Foreigners held over high-sea robbery

The speedboat used by the suspects to intercept the oil tanker.

BINTULU: Five foreigners have been arrested in connection with the robbing of three crew members on board an oil vessel here earlier this month.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Bintulu director Maritime Captain Shahref Steve Mac Queen Abdullah said the suspects, all Indonesians, were detained here on Aug 17.

“Cooperation between MMEA Bintulu and the police led to their arrest at a premises in the town centre here.

“The suspects, aged between 35 and 46, are believed to be involved in a robbery on board the Kuching-registered oil tanker on Aug 4,” he told the press yesterday.

He said the incident happened around 11pm when five men armed with a pistol and machetes used a speedboat to intercept the Miri-bound vessel, about 11 nautical miles northwest of Tanjung Kidurong.

“The suspects boarded the vessel and ended up robbing the three crew members of a gold necklace and five mobile phones.

“We believe they initially intended to hijack the vessel but ended up robbing the crew after finding out the vessel was not transporting any oil at the time,” he said, adding the weapons used in the incident have yet to be found.

Shahref further disclosed that during their arrest, the suspects were able to produce their passports which showed they had been staying and working in Sarawak for quite some time.

“All of them have no prior criminal records. They are now remanded and will be investigated for gang robbery under Section 395 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum jail term of 20 years and includes whipping if convicted,” he said.

Shahref (centre) shows the items seized from the five suspects during their arrest.

Shahref points to the five suspects as armed MMEA personnel stand guard.

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