Malaysia's house of torture

Kuala Terengganu (The Star/ANN) - A father's concern over the welfare of his teenage son led Malaysian police to the discovery of an unregistered rehabilitation centre that allegedly abused its inmates. Police found three of the inmates with their hands and legs bound in chains.

Police raided the home for delinquents and drug addicts together with state Welfare Department officers on Wednesday.

Terengganu CID chief Asst Comm K. Manoharan said two workers and a manager of the centre, aged 25, 29 and 47, were arrested in the raid, which followed a complaint from the father of an inmate.

ACP Manoharan said police raided two houses in Kampung Bukit Gasing, Marang, which served as a rehabilitation centre for men and women on Wednesday.

In the house for male inmates, police found 11 persons, aged between 15 and 35 three with their hands and feet chained while in the other house two women aged 23 and 24 complained they were abused and kept against their will.

"We believe the inmates were punched, kicked and caned at the centre.

"We also seized items such as wire cables, which are believed to have been used to abuse the victims," he said, adding that the case was classified under Section 31 (1) of the Childs Act 2001 for abuse as well as Section 344 of the Penal Code for assault.

He said the injured inmates were sent to hospital and the others transferred to a welfare home in Marang.

The suspects have been remanded until Saturday to facilitate investigations.

It is learned that parents who sent their children to the centre were each charged 1,000 ringgit (US$328) in deposit and 350 ringgit monthly fees.

However, a 19-year-old who was sent to the centre for substance abuse nine months ago denied that inmates were tortured.

He claimed that the three who were chained were violent drug addicts who exhibited dangerous behaviour.

When interviewed at his parents home here, the inmate claimed that the teen whose father had lodged the police report was a trouble maker and had shown violent tendencies from the moment he arrived five months ago.

"He tried to break down a warden's room door and even attempted to escape," he said.

A brother of the detained manager also claimed the teen whose father had lodged the police report was very problematic.

"The boy is very violent and had even threatened to hurt the wardens," said the man, who declined to be identified.

He claimed that his brother had planned to register the centre, which was opened about a year ago and that it had its headquarters in Selangor.

He claimed that the centre's module mostly consisted of motivational and religious classes as well as volunteer work.

He said the centre had helped many problematic juveniles, who were mostly suffering from drug problems.

Terengganu Welfare Department director Zuhaimi Omar said all the inmates had been released to their families.

"We appreciate the efforts by non-governmental organisations in helping problematic youth but they must register with the department first," he said.

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