BREAKING NEWS: A NEW TWIST IN AUSTRALIAN AND INDONESIAN POLICE EFFORT TO GAG QUASSEY
7 January 2003
If Tim Dodd ( Australian Financial Review, 7 January page 3) is right, those trying to prevent Abu Quassey from giving public evidence about how the SIEV X sabotage sting operation was organised have found a new ploy.
Dodd reports that a senior Indonesian immigration official Mr Lukmiardi said yesterday that Quassey might be rearrested on new charges of trying illegally to obtain an Indonesian passport and falsely holding identity cards which are reserved for Indonesian citizens.
Let's spell out what Dodd's report does not say. Under a deal struck with Quassey, he could be re-arrested and sentenced for a few more months or a year on such minor immigration charges . No doubt he would be offered more financial compensation in return for going back quietly to gaol and keeping his silence for another year in prison. Result - no early effective public investigation of SIEV X's deliberate sabotage as a deterrent action carried out by uniformed Indonesian police, possibly in arms-length working association with the Australian Federal Police's people smuggling disruption program in Indonesia.
One can see why the ploy might be superficially attractive. One small hitch. We are not going to give up, having exposed the possible parameters of the SIEV X crime thus far. So transparent a ploy to induce Quassey to evade giving evidence on SIEV X would only redouble our public-arena efforts to expose this public scandal in the conduct of the law enforcement agencies of both our countries. The only way to clean up this mess is to go on exposing it; and we will - rest assured.
The right course for AFP and Indonesian Police - as we have been saying publicly for a week - is for the latter to charge Quassey now under Indonesia's own domestic criminal code for his actions on Indonesian soil that clearly and grossly endangered the lives of the passengers on SIEV X. Where the boat sank is not at issue here - such a charge would be based on the armed coerced overloading to the point of extreme danger of capsizing when the boat reached open sea, at the Indonesian point of embarkation Bandar Lampung on 18 October 2001.
It would be the proper duty of the AFP now to offer their evidentiary brief prepared from SIEV X survivor testimonies for the AFP people smuggling SIEV X-based warrant against Quassey, to their Indonesian police counterparts to sustain the above Indonesian domestic-law charge.
AFP should also offer to fly up the survivor witnesses to Jakarta under AFP witness protection to give evidence against Quassey and his Indonesian police associates. This is necessary as serious threats were made against survivors in Cisarua/Bogor by Quassey associates in the months after the tragedy, warning them never to testify against Quassey on pain of death.
AFP has spent millions to combat people smuggling - if it is genuine, it can now spend a few thousand dollars more to bring those who murdered 353 innocent people to justice.
With that sort of correct and ethical police approach by the Australian and Indonesian Police forces, this case could soon be decently solved and Quassey's associates and arms-length backers exposed to face further charges.
What about it, Senator Ellison? Commissioner Keelty? Why have we heard nothing from you or AFP on Quassey these past five days? What is stopping you?