Rogue guard 'was trying to flee to Batam'

PENGERANG - The rogue security guard, arrested yesterday over the killing of an AmBank employee on Oct 23, was believed to have attempted to escape to Batam, Indonesia, via a fishing boat.

Police sources revealed that the Indonesian man, who had previously used a fake Sabah identity, had attempted to use a sampan to make his way to Batam, about 45 minutes away from a fishing village, Kampung Tanjung Belungkor, in Kota Tinggi, Johor, where he was nabbed.

It remained unclear whether the suspect was alone or had engaged the services of a "tekong" (skipper) for the purpose.

Sources believe the suspect could have attempted the plan as it was normal to see lone fisherman in the waters in the wee hours as the village was popular with anglers.

Sources believe the man had attempted to navigate the mangrove swamps to reach Batam, a route that locals said was "difficult, but not impossible".

Via legal channels, the Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal is just a stone's throw away, but the suspect would have to pass through Immigration Department checks.

He would also need to avoid entering Singapore waters, patrolled round-the-clock by the republic's coast guard.

Locals said Tanjung Belungkor was not a favoured route for smuggling, because of its proximity to the Pengerang marine base and heavily-monitored Singapore waters.

Fisherman Shamsudin Mohd Kassim, 47, said he heard three gunshots from a nearby quarry at 4am, but did not investigate.

"I knew something was up only when I saw the news on television the next morning, that someone had been arrested in the village."

The suspect was captured in a pre-dawn raid by a Bukit Aman Op Cantas Khas team in the village.

He was wanted for the murder of bank officer Norazita Abu Talib, 37, whom he had shot in the head during a robbery at an AmBank branch in USJ Sentral last month.

The suspect had fled with RM450,000 from the bank vault. His wife and acquaintances were arrested by police days after the incident. Selangor police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan said the suspect had used abandoned buildings and unoccupied houses in the Klang Valley and Johor to avoid detection.

"The suspect is believed to have used public transportation, such as buses and taxis, to slip out of the Klang Valley to head for Johor soon after the incident," he told Bernama, adding that he had also sought out a fake passport to flee the country.

His arrest was announced by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar via his Twitter account yesterday.

Following the arrest, the suspect, accompanied by 10 Special Branch officers, was brought to the Petaling Jaya Magistrates court at 3.20pm, where police obtained a seven-day remand order against him.

The case is being investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder. The suspect was taken to the USJ8 police station in Subang Jaya, where he will serve his remand period.

The suspect's arrest received praise from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who congratulated and thanked the police via Twitter.