BUKIT KAYU HITAM, Malaysia - Three Malaysians, allegedly the main players in the Wang Kelian human trafficking case where mass graves were found, will soon be extradited from Thailand to Malaysia to face the law.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that according to intelligence reports, they were not mere "ikan bilis" (small fry) but were the "sharks" in the case.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the Malaysian Government had initially received a list of 10 names believed to be involved in the human trafficking case but, after meeting with his Thai counterpart Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, who is also the Defence Minister, the list was narrowed down to three.
"We have had discussions so that MAL (mutual legal assistance) could be provided and right now, we are in the midst of getting the extradition order on the three.
"We have sent in a formal letter to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs through Wisma Putra.
"Every condition has been fulfilled," Dr Ahmad Zahid told reporters after visiting the new site, currently under construction, of the integrated Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security complex here yesterday.
"We believe in the near future, I can't say when, this trio will be sent back to face the laws of the country."
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said this was very important to Malaysia because at present, the country is on the Tier 2 watch list for human trafficking - a position the country should not be at.
"The Malaysian Government has done its best and held discussions with the US Ambassador to Malaysia. I have personally brought this to the high-level committee (on human trafficking) which I have chaired seven times," he said, adding that Malaysia will remain committed to combating this inhumane crime.
In May 2015, Malaysian police announced the discovery of 139 grave sites in 28 detention camps deep in the jungles of Perlis near the Thai border.
On another issue, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the Malaysia-Thai border checkpoint here will operate round the clock from Jan 1, 2019, upon full completion of the RM425mil integrated Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security complex.
He said the first phase of the new complex will be ready by Sept 1 and be in operation on Sept 3.
The current 18-hour checkpoint operation time will be extended to 20 hours.
"This will also ensure that current congestion problems are solved," Dr Ahmad Zahid said.