What is Australia doing to bring this man to justice?
Abu Quassey - the organiser of the fatal SIEVX voyage on which 353 people lost their lives - due to be released from prison in Indonesia on 1 January after serving a 6 month sentence for minor immigration offences.
All Eyes On January 1
|We say to the AFP and the Australian Government - this is the real test
of your sincerity in regard to SIEVX. Bring Quassey to justice in
Australia for his part in the mass killings of those on board the SIEVX. If
you have nothing to fear from Quassey's evidence in an Australian court
and what he might reveal about the Australian People Smuggling
Disruption Program in Indonesia then you will find a way to bring him
12 December 2002 (update)
With less than three weeks to go until Abu Quassey is released from jail in Indonesia, all eyes are now firmly on January 1 to see how the Government will respond to the challenge issued by the Senate yesterday in regard to the possibility of his extradition.
The second of the SIEVX related Opposition Parties majority motions was passed in the Senate yesterday. Unlike the first motion, calling for a judicial inquiry into SIEVX and Australia's People Smuggling Disruption Program in Indonesia, this second motion requested action by both the Australian and Indonesian governments.
It was introduced by Senator Collins, who challenged the Australian government over the seeming lack of vigour with which it is pursuing the extradition and prosecution of Abu Quassey. [Click here to see the full text of her firm statement ]
Senator Collins pointed out that there are many unanswered questions about the AFP investigation into the SIEVX sinking including - Why has the Australian Federal Police been unable to establish the location of where SIEVX sank... and why has there been limited progress with the Indonesian government despite our government's earlier confidence with regard to the possible extradition of Quassey?
These questions as well as others were raised by Senator Collins at the last Senate Estimates hearing on 20 November. She put them to Senator Ellison and Commissioner Keelty. All still remain unanswered though Quassey's release looms ever closer.
Senator Collins stressed the importance of this issue:
The government must demonstrate to the Senate, to the parliament and to the Australian public that it has exhausted all avenues regarding this crime of such large magnitude.
We in the SIEVX advocacy movement would also like to know why the AFP and the Government have altered their position on the possibility of extraditing Quassey to Australia to face homicide charges.
Those who have been closely following the SIEVX Affair will remember that when AFP Commissioner Keelty appeared before the CMI Committee on 11 July this year, he was the one who first raised the possibility of charging the organiser of the SIEVX voyage (then unnamed by Keelty but already named as Abu Quassey in other CMI testimony and submitted documents) with offences related to the deaths of the 353 people lost on SIEVX. In fact, this was one of the main reasons that Commissioner Keelty said he was unable to be very forthcoming in his testimony to the Committee and had to take a 'very conservative approach' in his evidence!
Here is what he said at the time:
I believe that, based on the evidence available to the AFP, we can establish that the alleged organiser of SIEVX, whose actions led to the deaths of 353 persons on board, could possibly be charged with offences associated with those deaths. The AFP is currently interviewing witnesses in Australia and is seeking the cooperation of Indonesian National Police to gather further evidence to support any potential future prosecution for those matters. In this circumstance it is important to note that the criminal prosecution may not be dictated by where the vessel sank but it may be determined by the vessel's intended point of arrival
[emphasis added] (CMI 1927
That was the last that was heard from Commissioner Keelty or Justice Minister Ellison about the possibility of determining the intended destination of SIEVX and using it as a basis to charge Quassey over the deaths on SIEVX, until Senator Collins returned to these issues in Senate Estimates on 20 November.
During the intervening five months, this possibility apparently had disappeared off the Australian police radar altogether.
Keelty said on 20 November that 'the AFP ha[d] sought and received advice from the Attorney-General's Department that it is not possible to prosecute a homicide brief... because of the lack of ability to prove jurisdiction'.
We would like to know when the AFP and the Justice Minister were advised that the intended destination of SIEVX could not be used to establish jurisdiction?
And also, after the sinking site became an issue regarding jurisdiction, why didn't the AFP try harder to establish greater certainty on this issue? For example, what was the AFP's response to the Jakarta Harbormaster's official report which gives the coordinates of where Indonesian fishing boats picked up survivors (at a point 51.5 miles south of Java, well into international waters )? Has the AFP checked out meteorological and ocean currents data to estimate how far and in what direction the survivors would have drifted in the 22 hours from the sinking site to where they were picked up by fishing boats?
What is the AFP's view of the two Australian official intelligence reports on the afternoon of 23 October 2001 (in Jane Halton's Taskforce in PM&C, and for the DIMIA minister ), that together also point clearly to SIEVX sinking in international waters around 50-65 miles south of Java?
How seriously is the AFP pursuing these matters pertaining to establishing a jurisdiction in a suspected major crime?
The response by Senator Ian Campbell to Senator Collins statement yesterday would seem to indicate that the government is making very little if any effort to try to bring Quassey to account for his suspected offences connected with the deaths on SIEVX.
Instead they point to the fact that four warrants have been issued for Quassey's arrest for people-smuggling offences and that an Interpol alert can be issued which 'will ensure that the Australian government can seek to extradite Quassey should circumstances allow.'
But what needs to be pointed out here is that when the first of January rolls around and Quassey is released from jail, these warrants will be unable to be executed in Indonesia. Quassey will disappear because people-smuggling is not a crime in Indonesia and will not be by 1 January 2003.
If however a warrant were to be issued for homicide then Quassey could be extradited to Australia before his release from prison, as homicide is an extraditable crime in both countries.
The motion moved yesterday by the Opposition parties has now put the spotlight on the Government with relation to Abu Quassey. The Government needs to demonstrate that it is serious about bringing him to account as a major suspect in the matter of the deaths of 353 innocent victims on their way to a hoped-for safe refuge in Australia.
When is the Australian Government going to get serious about what should be a major investigation into a suspected mass murder?
Kevin Makes Representation To Indon. Embassy
12 December 2002
On behalf of the SIEVX advocacy movement, Tony Kevin, at his request, met this morning with the Indonesian Embassy's acting Head of Mission, to bring to his attention our Movement's campaign to extradite Abu Quassey to Australia on homicide related charges, and the two recently passed Senate Motions about SIEVX and the disruption program.
Tony Kevin appealed for Indonesian government cooperation in bringing Abu Quassey and anyone associated with him in the SIEVX matter to judicial account.
The Acting Head of Mission undertook to bring these representations to the attention of the appropriate Indonesian authorities.
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