Police confirm body found on Malaysia island is missing Briton Gareth Huntley

Further tests underway to try and determine the cause of death of Huntley after DNA samples confirm his identity, Malaysian police say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 June, 2014, 8:14pm

A body found on a Malaysian island is that of British tourist Gareth Huntley who went missing during a jungle hike last month, police said on Saturday.

Zakaria Ahmad, head of crime investigation in the eastern state of Pahang, said DNA results showed that the body discovered on Tioman island on Wednesday was the 34-year-old.

“We already received the confirmation from the chemistry department that the DNA of the deceased belongs to Gareth,” Zakaria told reporters.

He added the cause of death had not yet been determined, pending further laboratory test results and investigation.

Huntley disappeared on the popular resort island off the east coast of Malaysia on May 27, leading to a major manhunt and rising concern in Britain, including from Prime Minister David Cameron.

Speculation has so far focused on whether Huntley had suffered a fatal mishap in the island’s rugged hills.

“We are still investigating,” Zakaria said, adding police had informed British High Commission officials of the positive identification.

The partly decomposed body was found on the banks of a small stream some 100 metres from a sea turtle conservation site where Huntley had worked as a volunteer.

DNA samples were taken from Huntley’s mother, Janet Southwell, who travelled to Tioman together with Huntley’s girlfriend a week ago to press the authorities to find him.

She declined to comment on the latest development when reached by telephone on Saturday.

Huntley’s friends also set up a Facebook page to urge on the search after they claimed authorities were dragging their feet.

Cameron’s office said he discussed the case with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak on Monday and offered British assistance in the search.

Malaysia’s government has already come under fierce international criticism over its response to missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Relatives of some of the 239 people aboard – two-thirds of who were from China – have accused Malaysia and its national carrier of reacting too slowly and even of trying to hide information.

The government has dismissed the criticism, saying it did all it could. The aircraft is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean but no wreckage has been found.

In a previous case on Tioman, French tourist Stephanie Foray went missing on the island in May 2011. Her remains were found three months later, buried in a cave.

A Malaysian shopkeeper is standing trial over her murder. He has pleaded not guilty to charges he killed her after she spurned his sexual advances.

Violent crime against foreigners in the Southeast Asian country remains relatively rare.