S'porean in Batam lock-up 'has fled to Malaysia by boat'

JAKARTA • A Singaporean who spent about a month in a Batam immigration lock-up for using a fake Indonesian passport has fled to Malaysia by boat after allegedly paying a huge sum in bribes and for boat transport, local police have said.

Damar Bahadur Chettri, 55, received help from a man believed to be another Singaporean, who paid the cost of his freedom, Batam police said.

Police yesterday arrested Indonesian Manasar Siagian, 49, who received $40,000 from a person said to be Damar's accomplice, said senior Batam policeman Helmy Santika.

Manasar allegedly passed 50 million rupiah (about S$5,000) to a rogue immigration official, identified only as Jul, who gave Manasar his access card and keys to Damar's cell, the officer said.

Manasar was alleged to have pocketed 100 million rupiah and spent the rest of the money to arrange a boat ride to Malaysia for Damar through one of Batam's illegal ports used by Indonesian migrant workers crossing to Malaysia.

"We are investigating the evidence collected from the scenes and studying the information given by Manasar in interrogation.

"We are also trying to find out who sponsored this and what his motive was," Colonel Helmy told reporters.

Police have obtained CCTV files of the immigration detention centre and evidence on the flow of funds, he added.

Damar was first arrested on the island in the Riau archipelago on Dec 22.

He was caught trying to leave for Malaysia by ferry using a fraudulent Indonesian passport, issued by the local authorities.

Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'S'porean in Batam lock-up 'has fled to Malaysia by boat''. Print Edition | Subscribe