In JB, five alleged members of the Bala Gang sex ring claim trial to human trafficking charge

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

JOHOR BARU, May 14 — Five alleged members of the Bala Gang criminal syndicate, including four Indian nationals, claimed trial at the Sessions Court here today to four charges of trafficking six Indian women since December last year.

The accused, S. Bala Muraly, 46, along with two Indian men, Thiruneelakandan Kasinathan, 39, and Sahayaraj Raju, 41, as well as two Indian women Nithyarettamary Yesurajan, 39, and Karpagavali Jeyakumar, 24, pleaded not guilty after the charges were read out in English and Tamil.

The case was tried separately before Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Arifin Ismail and Judge Fatimah Zahari.

According to the charge sheet, the accused were said to have trafficked six Indian women, between the ages of 23 and 38, for the purpose of sexual exploitation by way of threat, force or coercion.

The alleged act was carried out at D’ Secret Garden condominium, Jalan Kempas Indah and at Tune Hotel, Danga Bay, both here, between December 24 and April 24.

The charges were made in accordance with Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (Atipsom) Act 2007 which was read together with Section 34 of the same Act.

If convicted, the accused can be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding 20 years and can also be fined.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy Public Prosecutor R. Kodesviary, while Bala Muraly and Sahayaraj Raju were represented by defense counsel Mohd Fazaly Mohd Ghazali.

Kodesviary did not offer any bail for the accused, but suggested a sum of RM50,000 against Bala Muraly for each charge if the court used its discretion to grant bail.

No offer of bail was offered to the foreign accused.

Mohd Fazaly appealed for minimum bail to be imposed on his client, who is the manager of a plastic manufacturing factory, as he is his family’s sole source of income. The accused also has three children, aged seven to 13.

Ahmad Kamal and Fatimah allowed the accused bail at RM8,000 with a local surety for each charge, as well as the additional condition of surrendering his passport to the court and to report to the nearest police station every two weeks.

Meanwhile, Fatimah in her chambers also allowed Sahayaraj Raju bail at RM30,000 with a local surety. The accused will also have to surrender his passport to the court and report to the nearest police station every two weeks.

The court set June 25 for mention and submission of documents.

The foreign accused were also ordered to appoint a lawyer for the case.

Earlier, Nithyarettamary and Karpagavali claimed trial in the Magistrates’ Court here to a charge of overstaying in the country after the expiry of their passports.

Both women committed the offence at Blok B of the Country Garden Apartment, Jalan Persiaran Aliff Harmoni Utama here in violation of Section 15 (1) (C) of the Immigration Act 1959/63.

Karpagavali was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment from the date of her arrest on April 19, while Nithyarettamary was ordered to pay a fine of RM10,000, failing which she will face a 12-month imprisonment.

Earlier, it was reported that police had apprehended eight suspects, including the local mastermind, of a syndicate involved in human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Johor police chief M. Kumar said members of the criminal syndicate, identified as the Bala Gang, were arrested in five separate raids in Johor Baru and Kulai, between April 21 and May 1.

He said police also rescued 13 foreign women, aged between 22 and 49, from the syndicate that was believed to be active in sex work activities.