Malaysian police checkpoint in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysian police checkpoint in Kuala LumpurISTOCK

An Israeli man who was arrested in Malaysia last month faces up to 40 years in prison and a caning after he was charged with trafficking firearms and possessing ammunition in the country, a prosecutor said Friday, according to the AFP news agency.

Shalom Avitan, 38, was arrested on March 27 at a hotel in the capital Kuala Lumpur where police allegedly found six handguns and 158 bullets in his possession.

Avitan pleaded not guilty to the charges after they were read out in court on Friday. He remains in police custody.

"It is a serious offense," deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P Kunyalam told reporters inside the court.

"He faces a possible jail term of 30 to 40 years plus whipping with not less than six strokes of the cane."

Police said previously that Avitan was arrested two weeks after he arrived in Malaysia from the United Arab Emirates on a French passport.

After his arrest, he told authorities he had come to Malaysia to look for another Israeli due to a family dispute.

Malaysia does not have diplomatic ties with Israel. In December, in fact, a Malaysian citizen was arrested after posting a video to social media in which he called for peace with Israel.

Later that month, Malaysia banned Israeli-flagged cargo ships from docking at its ports in response to Israel's actions in Gaza, which it said ignores "basic humanitarian principles".

In 2022, Malaysia said it arrested suspected Mossad agents who tried to kidnap a Palestinian Arab who was acting on behalf of Hamas in Kuala Lumpur.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)