KUALA LUMPUR - Police are stumped as to how a group of over 60 Turkish nationals with children as young as six months managed to live undetected in the KL International Airport's (KLIA) viewing gallery for over a month.
This comes after airport authorities arrested three men from the group on Sept 30 after they apparently attempted to breach into the satellite terminal via the contact pier on Level 4.
The arrests led them to detain 65 others, including 21 children, 18 women and 20 men, in the viewing gallery at 7am on the same day. Initial investigations revealed that the group had been living in the premises for over a month.
All of them, who have been remanded until Oct 15, are now being investigated under Section 6(1) of the Immigration Act.
Sepang deputy OCPD Supt Zaldino Zaludin said no one had noticed the group as they were thought to be merely transiting passengers.
"They slept on cloth on the floor and bathed and changed in the toilets. At the airport, these things are a routine sight to us.
"They had money with them. The viewing gallery is a very big place - with toilets, prayer rooms and shops. If you have money, you can practically live there," Supt Zaldino said, clarifying that the only crime committed by the group was overstaying in the country.
"It's open to the public," he said.
Supt Zaldino said while the women and children were being held at the Cyberjaya police station, the men had been detained at the Sepang police headquarters.
Authorities trying to find out why the group had been living in the airport face a language barrier.
"Their embassy has been contacted and we are looking to refer this case to the Immigration Department soon," he said, adding that the oldest among those detained is 60 while the youngest is a mere six months old.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Aloyah Mamat said the area where the Turkish nationals were found was tagged as a "no man's land" although it was checked for squatters every night.
Last year, The Star had frontpaged the story of Ahmed Kanan, a 22-year-old Palestinian who lived in KLIA's mezzanine floor for over 50 days without the knowledge of enforcement officers.
Upon arrival, he had sought help from a Palestinian student in Malacca to register himself at the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) for a course but his application was rejected as he was on tourist visa.
He slept on a couch in the airport's news lounge, relied on transit passengers for his daily meal and bathed in a public toilet. He communicated with his family in Bulgaria and Vienna using WiFi Internet access from a cafe.
He was later given a 30-day special pass to re-enter Malaysia.