More safety nets being put out for Quassey
8 January 2003
'The Australian' Jakarta correspondent Don Greenlees ( 'Death boat suspect set to slip legal net', The Australian, 8 January, page 5) appears seriously misinformed by his (unnamed) Indonesian and Australian official sources.
There is no legal net out to prosecute Abu Quassey (also now known as Mootaz Attia Mohammad Hasan). There is clearly a safety net out, to shelter his and his police accomplices' suspected crime against humanity (353 deaths) from prosecution.
Let's accept for argument's sake that Quassey's extradition to Australia under the Australian Federal Police's SIEVX people smuggling warrant of 6 December 2002 is unavailable. Quassey can still now be charged under Indonesian criminal law for organising and embarking an unsafe sea voyage that put passengers' lives at serious risk.
Every country has such laws, especially an archipelagic country like Indonesia that relies on maritime transport. Such a prosecution would be soundly based on strong multi-witness survivor testimony on the circumstances of the deliberate gross overloading of the badly leaking SIEVX, at gunpoint, by Quassey and his Indonesian police accomplices at Bandar Lampung, Sumatra. Where SIEVX sank is irrelevant to prosecuting such a charge.
It is all there in the survivor videotapes made at Bogor on 23 October 2001, just five days after the embarkation - very strong evidence indeed for such a charge.
The AFP evidentiary brief for its SIEVX people smuggling warrant would sustain such an Indonesian criminal charge - especially if AFP flew up the seven survivor witnesses now in Australia to testify under AFP witness protection. This is essential, because their lives were threatened if they ever testified against Quassey.
Of course Mr Ruddock would have to give special approval for such journeys out of Australia by these TPV holders including their guaranteed return rights to Australia. Presumably he would give such approval, if adequate judicial accounting for 353 deaths depended on these witnesses' unhindered availability for testimony in Jakarta. As a lawyer, Mr Ruddock would appreciate that this must over-ride any TPV administrative considerations.
The truth of how the SIEVX death boat voyage may have been planned as an Australian-inspired final deterrent would come out in such a major trial; this might be just what AFP and their Indonesian police accomplices don't want.
Another really odd thing in Greenlees' article: he reports Australian officials' statements that the prosecution of Quassey if he were ever handed over to Australian custody 'would be limited to vessels he allegedly organised that entered the Australian immigration zone'. Greenlees continues: 'It means there is unlikely to ever be a court hearing that brings to light the details of the fatal SIEVX voyage'
If Greenlees' informants are correct here, this is breathtaking. How remarkably convenient for those who may want to conceal further public airing of the truth about SIEVX.
And how deeply shonky - because what has happened to the AFP's fourth, SIEVX-related people smuggling warrant against Quassey, issued under Australian Senate pressure on 6 December 2002?
Has this fourth warrant been quietly withdrawn, now that it may be becoming embarrassing to have it on the books? We never saw the details of this warrant; it was kept secret, it was claimed, so as not to prejudice the case. Has AFP now conveniently discovered legal flaws in this warrant, forcing it to be withdrawn?
Is this another case like the foreshadowed AFP homicide-based extradition process against Quassey, that AFP Commissioner Keelty so firmly talked about in his Senate CMI Committee testimony on 11 July 2002 ? And later admitted had been dropped, under Senate Estimates' questioning four months later in November?
Is there no limit to the extent to which Australian law enforcement officials responsible for the SIEVX case are prepared to twist and manipulate their words and deeds to suit their political convenience on the day?
The list of questions that needs to be put to Senator Ellison and the AFP, for which he is the responsible Minister, about the AFP's present intentions for bringing Abu Quassey and his accomplices to justice for their SIEVX alleged crime against humanity, is daily getting longer.
There has been no word from either Ellison or Keelty for a week now. What about it, Senator Ellison? When are we going to see serious answers to these important law enforcement questions? Surely accountability for these 353 tragically lost lives does matter to you ? Or are we missing something here?
Maybe, if we read some day soon that Abu Quassey has regrettably slipped the AFP net and disappeared into an unknown Middle Eastern destination, you will tell the Australian public why you did not pursue these questions and requests while there was still ample time to do so? Or maybe you will just go on saying nothing ?
[This media release has been lightly edited for publication on sievx.com]