SEREMBAN: A 51-year-old man who allegedly forced a family of five to work in an oil palm plantation in Jempol claimed trial at the Sessions Court here on Tuesday (Jan 10) to human trafficking charges.
L. Jaya Seelen pleaded not guilty to five charges of trafficking for labour exploitation after they were read to him before Judge Surita Budin.
He had allegedly forced couple S. Veerasamy, 46, and A. Rajeswarii, 39, their daughters Anbarasi, 22, and Shasikala, 19 and son-in-law P. Aridasan, 30, to perform forced labour to pay off their debts.
Jaya Seelen, who was a supervisor at Ladang Bukit Tinggi Rompin in Jempol, had allegedly committed the offences between 2008 and Nov 11, 2021.
He was charged under Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act which carries a jail term of up to 15 years upon conviction.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hafizah Zainul Hashimi then told the court that the prosecution was not offering any bail but left it to the court’s discretion.
She said should the court allow bail, then a maximum amount should be imposed with added conditions.
M. Gobinathan, the lawyer for the accused, asked the court to set a low amount of bail as the accused had not been working for five years.
He said the accused had been sickly and suffered from heart conditions and diabetes.
When Judge Surita asked how the accused was linked to the case if he had not been working for five years, Gobinathan said he merely helped a friend to send the workers to the plantation.
Surita then set bail at RM25,000 for all the five charges and ordered the accused to report to the nearest police station once a month.
She also told him not to contact the victims, who were currently staying at safe houses and other witnesses.
The court then fixed the case for mention on Feb 13.
According to the police, Veerasamy lodged a report on Nov 17, 2021, alleging that he had been assaulted by the suspect and that they were forced to work in his plantation.
A police team from Bukit Aman rescued the family on March 26 the following year and placed them in a safe house.
The suspect was picked up the following day to assist in the probe.