Man nabbed over pastor's abduction

Malaysian police have arrested a suspect in the case of missing pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo (pictured).
Malaysian police have arrested a suspect in the case of missing pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo (pictured).PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • Police have arrested a 32-year-old man in connection with the abduction of a pastor, a development the Sun daily described as a breakthrough in investigations.

It said the suspect was nabbed in Ampang, Selangor, after he demanded a ransom from the family of Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo in exchange for his release. Mr Koh, 62, was abducted on Feb 13.

"The suspect had contacted the victim's family a day earlier (Wednesday) and asked for an amount of ransom in exchange for his release," Selangor police chief Abdul Samah Mat was quoted as saying. The Oriental Daily newspaper said the man sought RM30,000 (S$9,550) from the family.

"The man was remanded at the Petaling Jaya Magistrate Court to facilitate investigations under Section 365 of the Penal Code for abduction and Section 385 of the same code for extortion," the police commissioner added in a statement yesterday.

The suspect has been remanded for four days.

 

Mr Abdul Samah, however, remained mum on whether police had determined the whereabouts of the pastor, saying that investigations were ongoing.

Malaysia's police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has disclosed that officers were considering three possible motives for the kidnapping, including whether personal issues were involved. He said police were also probing whether extremist elements were involved or it was simply a "kidnap for ransom" crime.

Tan Sri Khalid also advised against speculation about the case.

Rumours have been rife about the pastor's kidnapping, with a video which has gone viral apparently showing the abduction was carried out with clockwork precision by a professional team arriving in a number of vehicles and motorcycles.

The video, which has been handed over to the police, does not contain any audio and is believed to have been shot from houses near the site of the abduction, in Kelana Jaya, a bustling suburb in Selangor. Police are checking its authenticity.

Mr Koh was driving alone in his Honda Accord to a friend's house at about 10am when he was taken against his will. His family has offered a RM100,000 reward for his safe return.

Mr Koh was involved in church charity and community work with a group called Harapan Komuniti, which he founded more than 10 years ago.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2017, with the headline 'Man nabbed over pastor's abduction'. Print Edition | Subscribe