THE escapees who broke out from the Sungai Bakap (Temporary) Immigration Detention Depot in Kedah could be heading south, says Penang police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain.
“It has been about 12 hours since they escaped. I believe that they are exhausted. They are also barefooted.
“Based on the police findings, the escapees do not have a plan and are believed to be moving southward.
“Some of the escapees took the advice from the public to return to the depot. There was a group of youths (five to six of them) who followed the escapees from Relau in Bandar Baharu, Kedah, until the police arrived. The youths then shared information with us when we arrived.
“What the youths did was very responsible. We appreciate the information given to trace the escaped detainees. Please call the police and do not take matters into your own hands,” Comm Mohd Shuhaily told a media conference in Komtar today.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said that based on conversations with those who have been detained or returned to the depot, the escapees were allegedly not aggressive.
“According to the statistics provided by the Immigration authority, there were 664 detainees at the Sungai Bakap (Temporary) Immigration Detention Depot – 430 men, 97 women, 69 boys and 68 girls.
“A total of 528 of them escaped, while 136 people did not.
“The 528 escaped detainees comprised 294 men, 97 women, 69 boys and 68 girls.
“As of noon today (April 20), 357 people have been found. They comprised 163 men, 69 women, 57 boys and 68 girls,” he said.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said 171 escapees (131 men, 28 women and 12 boys) were still at large as of noon today.
Later, he also provided the latest information that the Penang police had detained six escapees in the Sungai Krian area, in Nibong Tebal.
“The latest development further strengthens my opinion that the escaped detainees are heading southward,” he said.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said that most of the escapees who had been rearrested this morning had been walking for about 10km before they were picked up by the authorities at KM168 of the North-South Expressway.
It was reported that the detainees had earlier escaped the depot at about 4.30am today (April 20).
“We have identified the areas to focus on. The Penang police have set up three roadblocks, namely, at Jalan Sungai Baong in Sungai Bakap, Jalan Tasek-Valdor, and Jalan Krian Kedah in Nibong Tebal.
“We have also deployed 17 teams, comprised four police officers and about 80 policemen for the operation codenamed ‘Ops Tutup’,” he said.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily explained that the Sungai Bakap (Temporary) Immigration Detention Depot is in Kedah, while it is placed under the administration of the Penang Immigration Department director.
“The depot is near the Kedah-Penang border,” he said, adding that the Penang, Kedah, and Perak police were working together in this operation.
He also said that the Kedah contingent police were handling the matter.
“The Kedah police are investigating the case under Section 223 of the Penal Code for negligence in handling a person under custody, Section 224 of the Penal Code for escaping from any custody in which he is lawfully detained for any such offence, and Section 147 of the Penal Code for rioting.
“The Penang police are assisting in the investigation,” Comm Mohd Shuhaily said.
In the accident where six of the escapees died while crossing the road at KM165 of the North-South Expressway, Comm Mohd Shuhaily said the victims were allegedly hit by a grey Toyota Vios, driven by a man in his mid-50s.
“The driver of the car was unhurt but was traumatised by the incident. The accident happened at around 6.45am this morning (April 20).
“I managed to calm the driver down when I met him this morning,” he said.
Comm Mohd Shuhaily said the police were still awaiting further information from the Immigration Department concerning the six escapees who died in the accident.
“We understand that one of the deceased has a dependent who has since been recaptured by the authorities,” he said.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who was present at the media conference, thanked the Penang, Kedah, and Perak police for their action in addressing the situation.
“We also thank the public for cooperating with the police and the authorities.
“We hope that the issue will be resolved soon,” he said.
Also present were Penang State Secretary Datuk Dr Ahmad Jailani Muhamed Yunus, and state executive council members Phee Boon Poh, Chong Eng and Soon Lip Chee.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Muhamad Amir Irsyad Omar
Video by Law Suun Ting