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Two Malaysian men charged with human trafficking: report

world Updated: Jul 11, 2009 10:56 IST

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Two men were charged with the trafficking of two Myanmar refugees, it was reported on Saturday, Malaysia's first such cases of people smuggling for the purposes of "forced labour".

Second-hand goods trader Azhar Yusof, 32, and self-employed Mohamad Nazeri Mat Hussein, 50, appeared separately in court on Friday, according to the New Straits Times.

The two Malaysians, who allegedy made 1,500 ringgit (419 dollars) in each deal, face up to 20 years in jail and a fine of 500,000 ringgit if convicted. Both denied the charges.

Prosecutor Mohamad Dusuki Mokhtar said they were believed to be part of a human trafficking syndicate.

Last month, the United States put Malaysia back on a people smuggling blacklist, saying the country had failed to comply with minimum standards to eliminate trafficking.

And Malaysian premier Najib Razak has admitted that his country was being used as a transit point for illegal immigrants, as human trafficking and drug smuggling replaced piracy as the main crime threat off its long coastline.

Malaysian marine police said 93 migrants, of different nationalities, have been arrested in the treacherous Malacca Strait since January as they tried to sail to Australia via Indonesia.