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More On SIEVX Mysteries

by Marg Hutton
10 September 2003

Walkley award winning journalist, Ghassan Nakhoul, is returning to the SIEVX story for the second time this year in his program on SBS Arabic radio which goes to air at 7pm tonight. Nakhoul's 'The Five Mysteries of SIEVX' was described last year by Walkley judges as 'a gripping series of eyewitness accounts of the sinking of the SIEV-X which played out the cultural complications of the story.'

Tonight's program includes new information on the Quassey trial that Nakhoul has gleaned from Arabic media as well as interviews he has conducted with a number of the Mandaeans who were passengers on SIEVX but disembarked prior to the sinking.

21 of the 23 Mandaean passengers are still in Indonesia. It is anticipated that Nakhoul will reveal that these people were only interviewed by the Australian Federal Police in June this year despite the fact that they have been in Indonesia since the sinking in October 2001. Interviews with the Mandaeans also confirm that there was a heavy Indonesian police presence when the boat was loaded - one of the interviewees stated that there were four generals among the police contingent overseeing the loading.

Other revelations include the astonishing fact that Abu Quassey's brother-in-law (his Iraqi wife Linda's brother) was smuggled into Australia on one of Quassey's boats and is living here on a Temporary Protection Visa! When Nakhoul approached Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock's office about this they declined to comment saying it was a matter for the Australian Federal Police. And when Nakhoul approached the Federal Police they never came back to him.

Nakhoul has also been researching the upcoming Egyptian trial of Mootaz Attia (known in Australia as Abu Quassey) in the Arabic press.

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al Gomhuria (7 September) the trial is taking place in Abdeen. Mohammed Mohyi is the judge; Rami Bashir the prosecutor and Court Secretary is Khaled Omar. The name of Quassey's attorney was not given. (All names and places are spelt phonetically).

Al Gomhuria describes Quassey as 'the owner of a tourism office in Indonesia'. He has been charged with 'wrongly killing' 350 people. The trial is set to resume on Saturday 13 September.

During last Saturday's hearing, Prosecutor Bashir stated that Quassey had been paid $10,000 by each family that boarded SIEVX for passage to Christmas Island. Bashir stated that evidence would be tendered showing that Quassey had sent 'many' boats to Australia. Bashir told the court that Egypt had been provided with information on Quassey from Indonesia as well as Australia and that both countries had been unable to prosecute him for the killings. The court also heard that when Quassey was arrested in Indonesia, he initially claimed to be Iraqi, then Turkish and finally Egyptian as he preferred to be deported to Egypt. Bashir said that Quassey knew that the boat (SIEVX) was not seaworthy and had a high probability of sinking.

Quassey's defence lawyer argued that it was wrong for Quassey to be tried in Egypt, especially after he had been imprisoned in Indonesia for his crimes. Quassey's lawyer claimed that the defendant was not responsible for the deadly voyage and had no relationship with the victims. At the end of the court session the Defence lawyer asked to be provided with copies of the files from Australia and Indonesia to which the court agreed.

Al Gomhuria screen dump:

Streaming audio:
Ghassan Nakhoul's radio program ~ downloaded from SBS Arabic radio website ( 10646) | ©Copyright Marg Hutton ~ / 2002-2014