Alleged people smuggler targeted
From correspondents in Stockholm
Australian (Breaking News)
24 June 2003

AUSTRALIA has asked Sweden to extradite an alleged people smuggler wanted in the drowning deaths of hundreds of asylum seekers in 2001, the Swedish government said today.

Iraqi Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, an Iraqi, is alleged to have played a key role in organising the voyage of the ill-fated people smuggling boat dubbed Siev-X.

He was arrested in Sweden last month after a request from the Australian Government.

Australia has an extradition treaty with Sweden.

Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesman Per Hedvall said in Stockholm today the extradition process could take weeks. A Swedish prosecutor will have to investigate the case and decide if extradition is warranted.

If Daoed fights extradition, the Scandinavian country's Supreme Court will decide whether he can be sent to Australia.

"If the court says yes, the next step is up to the government," Hedvall said. If the court doesn't permit the extradition, then Daoed could go free.

Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison said last month Daoed and another suspected smuggler, Abu Quassey of Egypt, had organised an overcrowded boat of asylum seekers that sank en route to Australia from Indonesia in October 2001.

The estimated 374 people who drowned were mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq.

If convicted of people smuggling charges in Australia, the two men would face a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail.

Quassey was recently deported from Indonesia to Egypt, and Australia was committed to extraditing both men, Senator Ellison said last month.

The sinking of the Siev-X has led to accusations the Australian government may have been involved in sabotaging the vessel as part of a scheme to dissuade people smuggling.

Retired Australian diplomat Tony Kevin has investigated the issue and said in March that while he did not believe Australia was directly responsible for the incident, it may have contributed to it.

- with AAP


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