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No trace of missing Swiss activist in Borneo

Bruno Manser had denounced logging practices in Malaysia Keystone Archive

Malaysian police say that they have found no trace of Swiss environmental activist Bruno Manser, believed to have gone missing in a Borneo rainforest in May last year.

This content was published on December 19, 2001 - 16:16

Mohd Yusoff Jaafar, police commissioner of eastern Sarawak state, said that local police had found no proof that he had died, was murdered or lost in the area.

Investigations began into Manser's case last week, more than a year after he is said to have entered Sarawak secretly in May, 2000.

"Nonetheless, the police are not closing the case and will continue our investigations should we receive reports from any parties on Manser," Yusoff told the national news agency, Bernama.

Sarawak's tourism minister, Abang Johari Abang, said on Monday that state authorities did not know whether Manser was actually in Malaysia. He added that the government would not be held responsible for Manser's disappearance, if he had entered the country illegally.

Manser, 46, had been banned from Sarawak after leading a campaign against logging in the rainforests. Malay authorities accused him of turning the Penan, thought to be the world's last nomadic rainforest tribe, against the government. The activist believed that widespread logging had devastated the tribe's traditional lifestyle.

According to the website of The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), the Basel-based organisation set up by Manser to spearhead his campaign, the activist had said before his trip that he might climb the Batu Lawi mountain before trekking to the Penan tribes on the Nyakit river.

A BMF search party has reportedly found tracks in the area but no other evidence to shed light on Manser's disappearance.

swissinfo with agencies

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