People smuggler action urged
30 December 2002

AN Egyptian man allegedly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of asylum seekers should be extradited to Australia, the Australian Democrats have argued.

Abu Quassey is due to be released on January 1 from a Jakarta prison where he is serving time for migration offences.

Quassey has admitted to organising the doomed SIEV-X voyage, which ended when 353 asylum seekers drowned off the coast of Indonesia in October, 2001.

Australia sought unsuccessfully to extradite Quassey, but Australian Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett today said Indonesia should again be pressed to hand him over.

"The Australian government must insist that Indonesia charge Abu Quassey with mass manslaughter or allow his extradition," he said.

Senator Bartlett said the Australian Federal Police had issued warrants for Quassey's arrest in relation to people smuggling, which carries penalties of up to 20 years in Australia.

But as people smuggling was not recognised as a crime in Indonesia, Quassey could not be extradited.

"It is unthinkable ... that Australia would have responded to the Bali bombings by saying it was up to Indonesian authorities as to what they wished to do about bringing people to justice," Senator Bartlett said.

"Yet in regard to the SIEV-X...the Australian Government is responding as if it is not our business."

Quassey could also provide valuable information about people smuggling if brought to Australia, Senator Bartlett said.


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