SIEVX erupted into the news again this week with the commencement in Brisbane Supreme Court on Tuesday of the trial of Khaleed Daoed, an alleged member of the infamous people-smuggling syndicate headed by Abu Quassey which organised the fatal SIEVX voyage on which approximately 353 people lost their lives in October 2001.
Daoed is charged with two counts of aiding in people-smuggling in relation to SIEVX and an earlier boat, Yambuk, that arrived safely at Christmas Island in August 2001. If convicted, he faces a jail sentence of up to twenty years. Daoed has not been charged in relation to the deaths on SIEVX.
Unlike other recent people-smuggling trials (and Daoed's first appearance in court back in 2003 soon after extradition from Sweden), this trial is receiving sustained, authoritative media coverage. Marian Wilkinson, National Security Editor for the SMH and co-author of the highly acclaimed Dark Victory (which contextualises the SIEVX sinking within the Howard government's cynical, ballot-driven assault on asylum seekers from the time of the Tampa through to the 2001 Federal election) has been in Brisbane all week filing reports for the Fairfax press (1, 2, 3 [with Johanna Leggatt], 4, 5, 6).
The court case is expected to run for at least another two weeks. During the first week,
six witnesses provided evidence - five men who survived the actual sinking and who have all since been given refuge in Finland (Sadeq Razaq Toullah Al-Abodie, Karim Jabbar Hussein Al-Saaedy, Hadar Ata Essa Qeiaswand, Ali Ismail Kahrachman and Musa Shikha Kiyas Ghol Goli) and one man now living in Sydney (Raid Sabah Sharmookh) who departed the vessel early in the voyage along with 22 other passengers because of safety concerns.
While the charges against Daoed are specifically related to people smuggling and not about the deaths on SIEVX, any mention of the boat clearly brings back distressing memories for some of the witnesses - two broke down in the witness box, the second later collapsed in the foyer of the Supreme Court; both ended up being hospitalised.
Refugee supporters from around the country helped to raise funds for Family of SIEV X Inc. so that 3 bereaved men could travel to Brisbane to observe the court proceedings in the hopes that they could better understand what happened to their loved ones. Sue Hoffman, the convenor of the West Australian Refugee Alliance, is accompanying them and was interviewed on the ABC radio program AM on Tuesday (audio, transcript).
The local newspaper in Sandviken, the Swedish town in which Daoed lived from February to May 2003 has continued to report on the trial (1, 2).
(The editor, Helena Nyman, has followed the Daoed case since he was apprehended in Sweden in mid 2003 and is the only journalist to date to have interviewed Daoed.) We hope to have translations of these articles on the website soon - thanks to Helen Brooks.
Links to first week's media coverage:
SIEV-X accused faces trial ~ 17 May (ABC )
SIEV-X families seeks answers from trial ~ Nick Grimm, 17 May (AM, extended audio)
SIEV-X - more truth to out ~ Christian Kerr, 17 May (Crikey)
Man in court over Siev-X sinking ~ Marian Wilkinson, 17 May (SMH)
Passengers told route was safe: court ~ Johanna Leggatt, 17 May (AAP)
Rescued SIEV-X passengers to give evidence ~ 17 May (ABC )
SIEV-X Accused Trial Begins ~ 17 May (SBS Radio)
THE TRIAL AGAINST SUSPECTED REFUGEE SMUGGLER BEGINS
~ Helena Nyman, 17 May (Arbetarbladet)
Survivors to face accused people smuggler ~ L. Edmistone, 18 May (CM)
Survivor tells court of crowded boat... ~ Marian Wilkinson, 18 May (SMH)
Denial over illegal boat plans ~ Johanna Leggatt, 18 May (Herald Sun)
$1300 for a seat on death boat ~ Leggatt & Wilkinson, 18 May (Age)
Smugglers met navy officer, court told ~ Marian Wilkinson, 19 May (SMH)
Indonesian police 'aided SIEV-X' ~ Johanna Leggatt, 19 May (AAP)
Sumatra coast cop 'arranged SIEV-X'
~ Kevin Meade, 19 May (Aus)
Former refugee tells court of abandoning SIEV-X ~ 19 May (ABC )
Överlevande flykting... ~ Helena Nyman, 19 May (Arbetarbladet)
Smuggler ring was well known... ~ Marian Wilkinson, 20 May (SMH)
SIEV-X survivor says he was told boat seaworthy ~ 20 May (ABC )
Smugglers paid coast guard... ~ Marian Wilkinson, 21 May (SMH)
(For further information on Daoed see here)