Bird smuggler shot dead by coast guard in waters off Johor

Johor MMEA director First Maritime Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria (centre) inspecting the protected birds seized in the operation off the waters of Tanjung Kelesa in Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi, August 24, 2020. — Picture courtesy of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA)
Johor MMEA director First Maritime Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria (centre) inspecting the protected birds seized in the operation off the waters of Tanjung Kelesa in Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi, August 24, 2020. — Picture courtesy of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA)

KOTA TINGGI, Aug 24 — An Indonesian skipper was shot dead by aMalaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency  (MMEA) team after a struggle ensued while attempting to smuggle out protected birds off the waters of Tanjung Kelesa in Bandar Penawar near here today.

The incident occurred when an MMEA enforcement team conducted an interception under Op Benteng Laut between 1.30am and 2.15am at 2.0 and 2.1 nautical miles north of Tanjung Kelesa after detecting the presence of a fibre boat acting in a suspicious manner.

Johor MMEA director First Maritime Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria said the boat was intercepted where the enforcement team found two local men and 90 baskets containing local protected magpies such as Murai Batu and Murai Kampung.

He said the suspect’s boat was waiting for another fibre boat to move the birds, before being smuggled to a neighbouring country.

“Upon the arrival of the second suspects’ boat, the MMEA team tried to intercept it for an inspection.

“Realising the presence of the authorities, the second boat tried to escape while attempting to hit the MMEA patrol boat in an effort to flee.

“Upon boarding the boat, a struggle ensued where the skipper acted aggressively towards the MMEA enforcement team,” Nurul Hizam said in a press conference at the Tanjung Sedili MMEA maritime zone office here.

Nurul Hizam said the Indonesian skipper, who was in his 40s, was shot after he tried to seize the firearm of an MMEA personnel during a struggle that broke out on board the second boat.

He added that all five suspects arrested during the incident were aged between 40 and 62.

“The seizure also included the 90 baskets of birds together and a 200-horsepower boat together with a smaller 40-horsepower boat worth a total of RM290,000.

“Both the boats, together with the local and foreign suspects were taken to the MMEA Tanjung Sedili maritime zone’s jetty,” he said.

Nurul Hizam said the case will be investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 for entering Malaysia without a valid pass and Section 186 of the Penal Code for preventing a civil servant from discharging their duties.

He said if convicted, they could be fined not more than RM10,000 or jailed for not more than five years or both, in addition they could also be caned under the Immigration Act 1959/63.

“For offences under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, those found guilty could be fined from RM20,000 to not more than RM50,000 or jailed for not more than three years or both.

“For offences under the Penal Code, they can be jailed for up to two years or a fine of up to RM10,000 or both,” said Nurul Hizam.

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