Cops identify main culprit behind depot breakout


BANDAR BAHARU, April 21 — Police have identified the main culprit suspected of inciting the riot that triggered the breakout involving hundreds of Rohingyas at the Sungai Bakap Immigration Depot yesterday. 

Kedah Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk G Suresh Kumar said the man, in his 30s, is a  detainee at the camp and police believe he was the ‘mastermind’ who may have incited the detainees to riot. 

“This man remains at large and search efforts are ongoing,” he told reporters at the district police headquarters here today. 

Suresh said as of last night, some 200 of the Rohingya detainees have been questioned. 

Over 20 personnel from the Immigration Department and the People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) who were on duty during the breakout were called in today to record their statements as well, he said. 

“So far, what we know is that the escapees only wanted their freedom and it was not because they were unhappy with the camp management,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bandar Baharu district police chief DSP Mohd Akmal Hizam Abd Khupur has given the assurance that the district and its surroundings were safe despite many detainees still on the loose. 

He said 14 police teams with a strength of 350 personnel, including the General Operations Force (GOF) have been mobilised to track down the fugitives. 

“For now, we are focusing on Bandar Baru town, Relau and Lubok Buntar, each covering a two-kilometre radius search range.

“Some of the escapees were found on roadsides and we believe there are some who are hiding in bushes with no idea where to go,” he said. 

Mohd Akmal Hizam also advised residents not to act on their own if they happen to come across the escapees, and instead immediately contact the nearest police station. 

In the 4.30 am incident on Wednesday, 528 Rohingya detainees escaped from the depot following a riot. 

Six of them died after being hit by vehicles on the North-South Expressway while 130 detainees, comprising 99 men, 21 women, five boys and five girls are still on the run,