Indonesian cops, soldiers civilians probed for illegal entry into Malaysia

KOTA KINABALU - Seventeen Indonesians, including 14 policemen and soldiers, who barged into a police station to get a suspected killer at Pulau Sebatik near here are being investigated for entering Malaysia illegally.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim said the men who entered the country were acting on their own and not under any official capacity from the Indonesian authorities.

"These men were all of lower ranks and were there on their own effort. They were not instructed to bring the suspect back by any superior.

"We don't know what their motives were, but we believe they had no malicious intentions when they entered the country illegally," he said, adding that the suspect they were looking for had allegedly murdered an Indonesian soldier.

The men had intruded on the Wallace Bay police station in Sebatik, a shared island off Sabah's south-western Tawau district, on Friday, asking to identify and take back the murder suspect.

Noor Rashid said the men - 10 policemen, four soldiers and three civilians - who were arrested would be investigated under Section 6(3) of the Immigration Act 1963 for entering the country illegally and also Section 8 of the Arms Act 1960 for possession of firearms without permits.

He said investigations were under the Immigration Act and Firearms Act and they would forward the investigation papers to the Attorney-General's office for further action.

Noor Rashid also confirmed that Malaysian police in Sebatik had arrested a suspect who was apparently wanted by Indonesian police for a murder case.

"Maybe they (Indonesians) had no bad intentions. They wanted to take back the suspect but they did not use the formal channels.

"They came with firearms and without proper travel documents.

"Based on this, they have committed an offence under our laws," he said, adding that the detained Indonesians were fully cooperative and police were also treating them well.

"We will take into consideration all aspects, including our good relations, as well as our country's laws," he said.

It is learnt that police also seized 12 firearms (eight pistols and four .38 Smith and Wesson revolvers with bullets) from the uniformed Indonesian soldiers.

The Indonesian group had crossed the border using motorcycles and speedboats at about 2.45pm on Friday and turned up at the Wallace Bay police station at around 3pm.

Seven of them arrived in a speedboat while the rest were on motorcycles, crossing the coconut tree border markers of the island.

Sebatik, with an area of 452.2 sq km, is shared by Sabah and Indonesia's North Kalimantan province. It is about 1km away from Tawau town or a 10-minute boat ride.

Noor Rashid said Malaysian police had no intention of discussing the possibility of sending back those arrested and that police planned to investigate and charge the 17 men under Malaysian laws.

Meanwhile, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said the 7pm to 5am curfew in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone), which is supposed to end today, had been extended to March 29.