The Royal Malaysian Air Force's (RMAF) F-5E jet engines reported stolen two years ago have been brought back to the country from Uruguay.
Malaysian daily Berita Harian reported on its website last week that Defense Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the engines were in Uruguay and were brought back to Malaysia after their return was secured by attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail.
“I cannot give the actual date on which the engines were brought back to the country, but it was by the efforts of the attorney-general, who went there physically (to arrange the return of the engines),” he was reported as saying in Kota Bharu. Abdul Gani traveled last February to Uruguay, where the engines were found
The F-5E jet engines, which were reported missing in 2008 were purchased in 1975 and have a going cost of several million US dollars.
On Jan 6, RMAF Sergeant N Tharmendran was charged under Section 380, read together with Section 109 of the Penal Code, with stealing the jet engines in December 2007 at the air movement section of the RMAF base in Subang.
He was also charged with conspiring in the theft of the two engines with senior Malaysian serviceman Mohamad Shukri Mohamad Yusop at the material processing shed (Matra 1) of the RMAF base in Sungai Besi. He was arrested on Sept 1 last year.
Tharmendran faces up to 10 years in jail and a fine, if convicted.
Businessman P Rajandran was charged with disposing off stolen properties (the two jet engines) under Section 414 of the Penal Code.
The Air Force has admitted that there were weaknesses within the RMAF inventory system at the time the jet engines were pilfered, which was a contributing factor to the theft.
The Malaysian government has said no high-ranking officials were involved.