The Intermediate Court yesterday handed a sentence of five years’ jail with three canings to a 33-year-old Indonesian man after a trial on a charge of people smuggling.
Junaidi Muhtar Ali was also ordered to settle a fine of BND6,000, or risk serving an additional two months’ jail.
Judge Pengiran Hajah Norismayanti binti Pengiran Haji Ismail found Deputy Public Prosecutor Siti Nurjauinah binti Haji Kula to have proven her case against Junaidi to be beyond the court’s reasonable doubt after producing five witnesses and disbelieving the defendant’s evidence from his “inconsistent” testimony.
The court established that the defendant had arranged for 28-year-old female Indonesian passage to Pontianak in Indonesia by way of Miri with the help of a friend and an agent
The defendant made the arrangement knowing the Indonesian woman did not have a passport and that he would receive BND100 for making the travel arrangements.
It was on March 2, 2020 when the Indonesian woman paid the defendant BND100.
The defendant then called his friend and asked him to send the woman over the border using his car without the use of a passport.
While on the move, the defendant’s friend stopped by the roadside because his car had run out of fuel.
The woman then called the defendant for help.
The defendant arrived soon, taking his friend to get fuel in a jerrycan while leaving the woman behind in the car.
They returned soon after and re-fuelled the car.
The defendant’s friend and the woman then continued their journey towards Sungai Tujoh and as they reached the border posts, the defendant’s friend told the woman to hide in the boot of the car.
At the post, the car boot was opened for inspection and led to the defendant’s friend and the woman’s arrest.
The defendant pleaded for the court’s mercy citing his family’s hardship back home.
“The court points out that despite any sympathy the court may have on the resulting hardship to the defendant’s family, it is not a factor that would influence this court in reducing the defendant’s sentence,” said the judge.
The court cited the Court of Appeal’s decision in acknowledgement of the violation of national borders as “it endangers the security of this country and its neighbours and involves the exploitation of vulnerable people”, an offence attracting severe punishments.