KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK): A taxi driver who was arrested then released by the police over the alleged kidnapping of a five-year-old boy in Malaysia says the incident has brought "shame" to his family.
"My children are embarrassed for me. Please, please clear my name," Mr Hanizan Mohamed Radzi pleaded to police officers as he was brought into the magistrate's court in Kajang to be released after a week in custody.
"I just drive a taxi. I didn't do anything," said a visibly tired Hanizan, who was clad in a blue shirt and jeans, as he was led out in handcuffs.
Mr Hanizan was arrested by police, along with three other men within 24 hours following the brazen kidnapping of the boy in front of his kindergarten in Kajang. The abduction was captured on closed-circuit television (CCTV).
The kidnappers had allegedly asked for a RM300,000 (S$99,000) ransom in exchange for the boy. The ransom was paid around 5pm the same day by the father, reports said.
Eight hours after the child was taken on Oct 9, Mr Hanizan was seen driving the boy back to his home at about 5.35pm and handing him over to his family.
The taxi driver claimed he found the boy wandering around the roadside and recognised him from images of him that had gone viral on social media.
However, the spooked taxi driver did not wish to reveal how and where he came across the boy.
That night, police tracked down the two men who abducted the boy and arrested mastermind of the abduction at his house in Sungai Chua, 2km from the victim's house.
After nearly a week, police officially cleared Mr Hanizan of involvement in the kidnapping, saying they found no links between him and the three other suspects.
Mr Hanizan, who was freed at about 10.30am on Friday, said he had no regrets.
"I did all this... for the community. Don't care about race. I don't regret helping that boy. I will always help. I want to thank my family for their support throughout my time in lockup, though I was treated well by the police."
"I admit I made a mistake by not making a police report. I hope this will not make people afraid of working with the police," he said.
Though some from Mr Hanizan's family wanted compensation for the trouble they have been put through, the family's patriarch said there was nothing to forgive or ask forgiveness for.
"I am proud of my son. I am happy he is finally free. I know my boy. When the news came out, I didn't believe it. He is not a bad person," said Mr Hanizan's father, Mohamed Radzi Itam Ibrahim, 75.
Mr Mohamed Radzi said he and his family, especially Hanizan’s teenage children, were upset by the arrest, and the ordeal was made worse by nasty comments made on social media over the past week.
Mr Hanizan was released with a bond under Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The three others detained over the incident will be charged at the court here Friday under Section 3(1) of the Kidnapping Act 1961 for abduction, wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement for ransom.