In the aftermath of discovery of 139 mass graves in the country’s north, Malaysia has detained 12 policemen on the suspicion of being complicit in human trafficking, Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said.
Out of 12 cops, four had been arrested during various police investigations since early last year, while remaining eight were held by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for alleged involvement in human trafficking, Wan Junaidi told reporters.
“We will have to see whether or not there are any links to the camps. Because the arrests were made in the north, we suspect there may be some connection,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
Malaysia started exhuming the mass graves on Tuesday with a team of forensic experts and medics.
Media reports said that the migrants were tortured, put in wooden human cages and left to die if ransom was not paid.
Junaidi also said that the number of bodies buried in the mass graves was 139.
“Based on the size of the graves, and after the area was cleared… we have a clearer indication – single grave, single person,” Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told reporters.
The discovery of 139 mass graves in Malaysia’s abandoned jungle camps used by human traffickers on the border with Thailand has put the spotlight on the grim extent to which the region’s migrant crisis has spiralled.
The graves are suspected to contain the bodies of migrants fleeing from Myanmar and Bangladesh, most of them being Rohingya Muslims.
Since May 10 alone, more than 3,600 people — about half of them from Bangladesh and half Rohingya from Myanmar — have landed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Thousands more are believed to be trapped at sea in boats abandoned by their captains.