Age (online)
30 July 2003

The federal government was implicated in the sinking of crowded refugee boat and the AFP was monitoring a website about such claims to keep on top of new evidence, a former diplomat said today.

Tony Kevin, a former ambassador to Cambodia, said Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty had admitted the AFP trained 20 Indonesian police in people-smuggler disruption techniques.

Mr Kevin said Mr Keelty also admitted the AFP did not think it had full control over how those men chose to implement that training and the AFP wouldn't necessarily know if they had sabotaged engines on people smuggler boats.

While Mr Keelty has said the AFP does not condone such activities, Mr Kevin said there were links to the October 2001 sinking of the asylum seeker boat known as SIEV-X which resulted in 353 deaths.

'The point of the matter is that Mr Keelty's organisation trained the Indonesian police and set up the disruption teams selected by the AFP out of the Indonesian police,' Mr Kevin told the ABC.

' ... I believe that there is substantial evidence leading towards the likely conclusion that SIEV-X was sunk as part of an Australian government disruption program to disrupt people smuggling in Indonesia.

'That program operated through liaisons established between the AFP and elements in the Indonesian national police that were prepared to do this work.'

The new round of claims follows an admission from the AFP that they were monitoring a website devoted to finding the truth behind the claims.

Mr Kevin said he believed the AFP was anxious to keep ahead of any new evidence and not be taken by surprise.

'The SIEV-X website is an archival site which collects every piece of public information that exists about the sinking of SIEV-X and the drowning of its passengers,' he said.

It's been claimed that the government may have allowed SIEV-X to sink to deter other asylum seekers. It's also been claimed the overcrowded vessel may have been sabotaged.

The government has strongly denied any wrongdoing and no evidence of improper conduct has yet emerged.



Back to