KANGAR - A former secondary school teacher was acquitted of human trafficking charges after a five-year-long trial.
Lee In Chiew had quit his teaching job to run an agency dealing with the outsourcing of foreign workers.
In 2010, he was arrested and charged in September that year with 102 counts of trafficking 63 Indonesian females aged between 22 and 38, at 11.20pm on July 24, 2010 at his home in Taman Perlis here.
The long trial resulted in him closing down his business. His friends deserted him.
"To keep myself focused, I took up a long distance Masters programme in Universiti Utara Malaysia in 2011.
"I graduated last year and my convocation will take place in October," said the 54-year-old after he was freed of the charges by a Sessions Court here yesterday.
Lee said although five years was a "very long time", he was thankful that his name is finally cleared.
In acquitting Lee yesterday, Sessions Court judge Chan Jit Li said the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
"Therefore, I find the accused innocent and he is to be acquitted and discharged from all the 102 charges," she said.
Lee was charged under Section 12 and 13 of the Anti-Trafficking In Persons Act 2007 in his capacity as an individual as well as a director of S.I. Setia Sejati Sdn Bhd, and on behalf of the company.
The offences carry a maximum jail sentence of 15 years under Section 12 and between three and 20 years' jail under Section 13, other than a fine.
The Indonesians have since been deported.
Lee's counsel M. Kumarathira-viam told reporters after the decision that 97 prosecution witnesses and two defence witnesses were called during the trial.
He said Lee, who is operating another business now, had been out on bail of RM102,000 (S$36,000) since 2010, and had given his defence under oath from the dock.
DPP Fuad Abdul Aziz prosecuted the case.