KAJANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Right after he sent a kidnapped boy home last Friday (Oct 9), Malaysian taxi driver Hanizan Mohamed Radzi whispered into the ear of the child's uncle: "I didn't kidnap your boy."
That was exactly what Mr Hanizan said again when he was released on court bond yesterday.
He has emerged as a major character in the case that gripped Malaysians after a video went viral showing how a woman was approached by a man apparently asking for directions, who then snatched her five-year-old son.
Eight hours after the broad daylight drama, the child was reunited with his family when Mr Hanizan brought him home.
The boy's businessman father has full belief in Mr Hanizan's innocence.
"I trust him 100 per cent. My whole family is thankful to him for what he has done," he told The Star.
The two men hugged each other when Mr Hanizan, 41, walked out of the court complex yesterday.
The boy's 38-year-old father said he was "greatly indebted" to Mr Hanizan for bringing his son safely home to Taman Cahaya Suria.
As Mr Hanizan became a free man again yesterday, there were tears in his eyes and a smile on his face.
He said he had no regrets over what happened although he had to spend a week behind bars.
"I did it for the community. I 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 the lockup; I was treated well by the police.
"I admit I made a mistake by not making a police report, but I hope this will not make people afraid of working with the police," he said.
Mr Hanizan was picked up just hours after dropping off the boy and was placed under police remand for a week.
In the courthouse, emotions ran high as Mr Hanizan's family and the family of the kidnapped child met for the first time.
There was not a dry eye as the two families exchanged apologies, gratitude and embraced each other.
Mr Hanizan, the father of two teenagers, had little time to explain to his wife - who had just returned from her job at the Parit Buntar Hospital - what had happened when the police arrested him.
His father Mohamed Radzi Itam Ibrahim, 75, said he only found out about Mr Hanizan's arrest when he read the newspapers the next day.
"I did not believe it at all. That is not my son; he is not a bad person."
Mr Hanizan's sister Zaiton said the taxi driver's wife and children were under tremendous stress following the arrest.
"Especially on Facebook - they were saying this and that about Hanizan. We didn't dare go online. We couldn't do anything. We could only pray," she said.
There was a brief, tense moment when one of Mr Hanizan's brothers demanded compensation from the boy's family for the misfortune, saying his family had suffered.
Mr Mohamed Radzi and Ms Zaiton immediately made amends.
"This is nobody's fault. And I do not blame you," Mr Mohamed Radzi cried as he hugged the weeping father of the kidnapped boy.
Mr Hanizan had earlier said he had found the boy wandering on a roadside and recognised him from images on social media.
Police have cleared him of any involvement in the kidnapping, saying they found no link between Mr Hanizan and the alleged kidnappers.
But remains on a court bond despite his release because he is expected to appear in court as a key witness, said a source.
"The bond is important to ensure he appears in court as a witness," the source said.
When a court offers bail to a suspect, it is usually in the form of a bond with security.
A source from the Kajang police headquarters said it was up to the court to decide on the conditions of the bond.
"The bond varies according to the court's wishes. Sometimes it is a cash deposit. Other times, it is a bond of good behaviour," he said.
The source said in Mr Hanizan's case, he was subjected to a bond as he might be considered a key witness in the case.