Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Baby-for-sale ring suffers further blow

Police have arrested another couple in the crackdown on a baby-for-sale syndicate here, bringing the number of people caught so far to 36.

A three-year-old child was rescued from the couple's home in Bukit Mertajam during the arrest on Monday. The man and the woman nabbed are in their 50s.

Penang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said 10 children, aged between two months and eight years, who were sold by the syndicate had been rescued.

“Of the 36 suspects, 22 have been released under Section 118 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” he said.

DCP Abdul Rahim said the children were being well taken care of by police task force members.

At the Bukit Mertajam magistrate's court yesterday, the police obtained temporary custody for eight of the children to be handed over to the state Welfare Department.

The babies in the group were fast asleep, snugly wrapped in blankets, while the toddlers clutched pillows and sucked on pacifiers as they were taken away in a van.

The police also obtained an order from the same court to extend the remand of three suspects for another week until Feb 4.

They are a man in his 50s, who is believed to be a National Registration Department (NRD) officer, and two women, believed to be in their 30s and 40s.

The Star reported last week that an NRD officer and a doctor were among the syndicate members nabbed by the police.

It was also reported that the syndicate, which sold babies and children for between RM18,000 and RM30,000, had been active since 2009.

Five of those arrested pleaded not guilty at the Butterworth Sessions Court last Friday when charged with trafficking in seven children between Sept 30, 2008, and Jan 16 this year in Penang, Perak and Kedah.

Ooi Ah Imm, 47, Chin Din Chun, 57, Lim Choon Liang, 63, Lim Soo Chin, 52, and Bahtiar Abas, 51, denied committing the offence under Section 14 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine. The case has been fixed for mention on Feb 15.


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