Johor kidnap victim 'roughed up' by abductors

Kidnappers roughed up the vegetable trader who was abducted in southern Johor on Jan 27. The Malaysian citizen was released after five days of captivity.

Johor Police Chief Mohd Khalil Mohd Kader said the 57-year-old man was "roughed up" by the kidnappers but was uninjured.

Mr Khalil said in Malay: "Even though there were news reports stating the victim is a Singaporean, I want to confirm that he is not a Singapore citizen but a Malaysian."

He also revealed that 16 suspects have been arrested with some part of the nearly one million ringgit ransom recovered.

Initial Malaysian media reports had identified the kidnap victim as a Singaporean citizen, though he was not named.

The incident occurred at about 7am near Gelang Patah, just 20 minutes north of the Tuas Second Link.

The businessman, who exports vegetables to Singapore, was ambushed by two masked male suspects as he was jogging with a friend.

One suspect is believed to have fired a handgun to scare the victim, who was immediately dragged into awaiting car with a fake licence plate.

A 9mm casing was found at the incident site.

After the police were alerted by the kidnap victim's friend, they covertly began identifying the suspects.

The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of RM300,000 (S$100,000) and $500,000 from the victim's family.

The victim was released after his family paid RM300,000 and $265,000.

Mr Khalil said: "We waited until the victim was freed before we made the arrests."

The victim was examined at Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru.

The police, with help from the special investigation units from Johor and Bukit Aman, sprang into action on Jan 31 in multiple areas in Johor Baru and Kuala Lumpur. Of the 16 arrested, 13 are males and three females between the ages of 21 and 59.

The suspects - all Malaysian citizens - will be held in police custody till Feb 11.

So far, Johor police have recovered part of the ransom money paid to the kidnappers. This amounted to RM92,567 and $5,190.

Mr Khalil said: "Rest assured, we will fulfil our investigation and will determine all involved (in the kidnapping) are caught because this group has been active since 2010... we will trace them and maybe we could surface some other cases where the group was involved in."

The Johor police are still looking for a few other suspects.

Mr Khalil said that some of the suspects are from two Chinese secret societies which have been on the police radar since 2010.

Two vehicles used in the alleged kidnap have been seized.

Investigations are ongoing.