A Malaysian court has acquitted a tour guide of trafficking 26 Chinese citizens who were arrested with fake passports at an airport on their way to Brazil, officials said on Thursday.
A district court judge in central Selangor state acquitted Chin Fung Chu, aged 48, of the trafficking charge on Wednesday, said a court official, who declined to be named citing protocol. The judge ruled the prosecution had failed to establish a case against Chin but did not elaborate, the official said.
Human trafficking is punishable by up to 20 years in jail in Malaysia. The Chinese nationals, including six minors aged 15 to 17, were arrested in August in 2009 with fake Hong Kong passports at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. They were about to fly to Brazil. It is not clear why they wanted to go to Brazil or how much they paid, said prosecutor Siti Syuhada Alwi.She said she would appeal the verdict. She added that the Chinese have all returned home.
Activists have criticized Malaysia for not doing enough to stop human trafficking and failing to secure convictions and adequately protect victims.
The government said in July that it had rescued more than 1,200 victims since 2008 and brought 155 cases before the courts. At least nine people have been convicted so far.