Witness in people smuggling trial recalls the wait for rescuers

KAITLYN OFFER Court Reporter
May 26, 2014 4:24PM

A PASSENGER on board a capsized boat full of asylum seekers has told a Perth court how an alleged people smuggler told him he hoped a search plane was Australian, because if it was Indonesian he would be killed.

Ali Ahmadi this morning gave evidence in the District Court trial of Boy Djara and Justhen.

The pair are accused of being the only surviving crew members of a fishing vessel that sank in June 2012 while trying to get to Christmas Island from Indonesia.

Mr Djara and Mr Justhen have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of helping to facilitate the unlawful entry of non-citizens in a way that was reckless and put them in danger of death or serious harm.

Mr Ahmadi was fleeing Afghanistan in 2012 when he boarded the doomed boat along with about 200 other men.

Speaking through a translator, Mr Ahmadi said he managed secure himself a lifejacket when he first got on the wooden fishing boat.

When the boat capsized on June 21, 2012, Mr Ahmadi was one of about 40 men who clung to the upturned hull waiting for rescue.

He said while they were waiting, a crew member who was also on the hull spotted a search plane.

“He said if it was Australian it was good, but if it was Indonesian they would kill him,” Mr Ahmadi said.

Mr Ahmadi said he did not speak Indonesian, but the alleged crew man indicated that was what he meant by taking his hand and pretending to slit his throat with a finger. He said the man indicated an Australian rescue was good with a “thumbs up”.

Mr Ahmadi was one of five survivors to give evidence in the trial so far.

The trial continues.


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