Quassey For Egypt|
by Marg Hutton
16 April 2003
According to an article on news.com.au, Abu Quassey - the
organiser of the SIEVX voyage on which 353 people, mostly women and
children, lost their lives - will be flown to Egypt later this week,
nearly four months after his release from Cipinang prison for minor
Indonesia has been holding Quassey in Immigration detention all this
time, yet it seems that Australian Justice Minister Ellison and the
AFP have made little use of this window of opportunity.
We will know by the end of the week just how genuine Ellison and Keelty were in
their efforts to bring Quassey to trial in Australia for what Senator
Bartlett has called the 'mass killings' on SIEVX. If Quassey gets home
free to Egypt, it will be apparent that Ellison's vow to pursue him
'no matter where he goes or how long he lives'
was just empty rhetoric.
Australia's seeming reluctance to actively pursue Quassey further
supports the theory that Australian authorities may have been involved
at some level in the sinking of SIEVX. The AFP's track record suggests
that it is happy to go slow in extraditing and bringing to trial in Australia people smugglers whose
operations have been deeply penetrated by disruption agents.
Over the past two years Australia has helped to organise sophisticated sting
operations to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling syndicates; the
most well known of these is the one that netted Hasan Ayoub in
Cambodia in July 2001.
Like Abu Quassey, Hasan Ayoub had been allegedly operating the
Christmas Island run in early 2001. He then attempted to open up a
new people smuggling route from Cambodia. The AFP notes in its last annual report that
the unnamed Ayoub had been a target of its people smuggling team. (p.52)
The sting operation that bagged Ayoub in Cambodia involved liaison
with Indonesian and Cambodian officials and infiltration of Ayoub's
syndicate by disruption agents who actually helped to load the boat
send it out to sea with more than 240 asylum seekers during the
Australian Ambassador to Cambodia Louise Hand said at the time of this
perilous enterprise, 'They were crammed in like passengers on a slave
ship... They faced serious danger.'
Ayoub is currently languishing in jail in Thailand where he has been
since December 2001. A Thai court ruled in August last year that he
extradited to Australia to be tried for people smuggling offences.
Nine months later Ayoub is still imprisoned in Thailand.
In the meantime, another people smuggler, Al Jenabi, who allegedly
organised several boats to Ashmore Reef, has been extradited from
Thailand to Darwin, although he was apprehended and brought to court
more than four months after Ayoub. So Australian authorities can work
quickly when they want to.
Is Quassey still outside Australia because SIEVX was also a victim of
an elaborate sting operation?
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