The 16 Malaysians who were duped by lucrative job offers in Cambodia were abused with electric shocks and forced to work as scammers without any salary.
The victims, 12 of whom were repatriated on Tuesday (Apr 12) morning, were also beaten and slapped, said their lawyer.
Heng Zhi Li, who represents the 15 men and one woman, said the victims had left for Cambodia in stages between September 2021 and February this year after they were allegedly promised a salary of RM7,000 (US$1,650).
He added that the victims began contacting the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) in January.
Information about their situation was then shared with the Council for Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants (MAPO) which subsequently sought assistance from ASEANAPOL and Interpol to rescue them.
Foreign Ministry deputy secretary-general Amran Mohamed Zin said that the Cambodian authorities had received information on the involvement of 16 Malaysians in illegal activities in the country and arrested all of them on Apr 4.
“Even though the Cambodian government found that they were carrying out illegal activities in Cambodia, legal action has been set aside for now so that we can bring home our people from being stranded there,” he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2.
Amran said that the Malaysian embassy in Cambodia was monitoring the condition of the four other Malaysians, who were undergoing quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.
Cambodian authorities will arrange for their return as soon as they have recovered, he added.
Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Abd Jalil Hassan previously said that the victims had been deceived through Facebook and forced to work as scammers by a syndicate in Preah Sihanouk which offered lucrative customer service officer jobs in Cambodia.
The costs of their trips there were borne by a company in Cambodia.
As soon as they arrived in the country, however, their travel documents were seized. Their movements were also controlled and they were kept under tight security, he said.