SHAH ALAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, XINHUA, NYTIMES, AFP) - Malaysian police have confirmed that a rented car, believed to have been used by the suspects who gunned down Palestinian lecturer Fadi Albatsh, has been found.
"We have identified the owner (of the car) but I cannot comment further as our investigation is still ongoing. We are still in the midst of tracking all the suspects down," said police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun.
"We are uncertain if the suspects are still in the country or not," Tan Sri Fuzi said. "I have already asked Interpol to help in our investigations and we have contacted our friends in the region to assist us as well," the Inspector-General of Police said at a press conference on Friday (April 27).
It had been reported that the locally made car had been recovered early Thursday morning in the Kuala Lumpur area.
In the 6am incident on April 21, two men in full-faced helmets on a high-powered motorcycle waited 20 minutes in the dark at a Kuala Lumpur suburb, before shooting Dr Batsh.
Reports have said the 35-year-old Palestinian lecturer and member of the Hamas Islamist group, which rules Gaza, was a marked man.
Family and friends of the 35-year-old have accused Israel’s Mossad spy agency of carrying out the killing but the Jewish state has denied the claims.
Based on CCTV footage, police have ruled out that he was the victim of a random shooting as others who had walked past the two assailants had not been targeted by the gunmen.
Police said earlier this week the motorcycle used had been found abandoned near a lake in Danau Kota, Kuala Lumpur, about 2km from the scene of the shooting.
Mohamad Fuzi added that investigations led police to believe that the two suspects had an accomplice who aided their getaway. "We are certain that there was a person already waiting for them at Danau Kota," he said.
He added that police also believed that the suspects had lived in various places in the country before carrying out the assassination.
He said the police have not been in contact with Hamas, adding that they were instead liaising with the Palestine embassy in Shah Alam.
Dr Batsh's body was flown out of Malaysia on Wednesday to Egypt where it was then transported to his native Gaza Strip. A funeral for the scientist was held by Hamas leaders, relatives and family members, before it was buried the Xinhua news agency reported.
The New York Times on Thursday reported that Middle Eastern intelligence officials had said the killing was part of a broader operation ordered by the Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. It said the killing was aimed at dismantling a Hamas project that sends Gaza’s most promising scientists and engineers overseas to gather know-how and weaponry to fight Israel.