Sinking seen as conspiracy
The Border Mail (Albury)
3 July 2003
The drowning of 353 people aboard a doomed refugee boat in 2001 was no surprise to the Indonesian Government and encouraged by the Australian Government, a former diplomat claims.
Since February last year, Mr Tony Kevin has researched the circumstances surrounding the sinking of SIEV X on October 19 2001, and says it was part of a plan by the Indonesian police to discourage people smuggling - and those asking to be smuggled.
Mr Kevin was in Albury last night to address the Albury-Wodonga branch of the Rural Australians for Refugees.
He said at the time of the sinking, Australians were told the SIEV X was not in Australian waters [sic - see note 1 below] and therefore Australia had no responsibility.
In the past year Mr Kevin has recovered documents and other evidence which suggest the boat went down in Australian waters [sic - see note 1 below] and its demise was part of an orchestrated plan instigated by a unit of the Indonesian police who were trained, equipped, tasked, and funded by the Australian Federal Police.
Mr Kevin said the boat had been organised by people smuggler Abu Quassey, whose boats were 'conspicuously unsafe and intended to be unsafe' and who was working with the Indonesian police.
Just 44 survived the sinking of the boat.
Mr Kevin said the coordinates provided to the Jakarta Harbormaster by the fishing boat [that rescued survivors] suggested the SIEV X was in waters patrolled by Australian defence ships [sic - see note 2 below].
'To me, it's an issue of criminal justice, not of border protection policy' Mr Kevin said.
'It's about whether all these people were killed as a deterrent'
Corrections by Tony Kevin: ( to be sent to 'The Border Mail' )
1.I said the Australian government's initial claim was that SIEV X sank in Indonesian waters. I said the evidence is that SIEV X sank in international waters and in Australia's Operation Relex border protection surveillance zone. I have never said, and do not believe, that SIEV X sank in Australian waters.
2. I said SIEV X sank in waters patrolled under Operation Relex by Australian RAAF surveillance aircraft, not patrolled by Australian defence ships.