Survivors to face accused people smugglerLeanne Edmistone
Brisbane Courier Mail
18 May 2005
REFUGEE survivors of a failed people-smuggling venture will give evidence against an Iraqi goldsmith accused of helping organise two boat journeys from Indonesia to Australia in 2001 - one of which ended with the death of more than 300 people.
Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 38, a former Baghdad goldsmith and father of four, pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court in Brisbane to charges under the Australian Migration Act of helping to bring people to Australia illegally and the proposed entry of people to Australia illegally.
Commonwealth Crown Prosecutor Glen Rice said it was alleged Daoed, himself a refugee, helped two other men in Indonesia organise the trips, recruit passengers, give instructions, and provide food and equipment for the journeys - which took place between July and October 2001.
The court heard 147 passengers had safely arrived in Christmas Island on board the Yambuck on August 4, 2001, but more than 300 people died on October 19, 2001, after the engine failed and their overcrowded boat capsized in open seas.
Forty-five people from the boat, later dubbed the SIEV-X, were rescued by a passing fishing vessel.
But Justice Phil McMurdo instructed the jury that while the loss of life was tragic and would be distressing to some jurors, Daoed had not been charged with causing the deaths and they had to impartially consider evidence only as to his involvement in the organisation of the smuggling trips.
Justice McMurdo also warned the panel of six men and eight women, including two reserve jurists, to put aside any political or personal views they had about the Government's immigration policy and the situation facing refugees in Australia.
During his opening address, Mr Rice told the court Daoed left his wife and children in Iraq in March 2000, moving to Jordan and later following the smuggling route to Malaysia and then Indonesia, where he became involved with Egyptian smuggler Abu Quassey and another man.
Mr Rice said while Quassey was the principal organiser of the smuggling ventures, it was alleged Daoed assisted with recruiting passengers, negotiating and taking payments of up to $US1000, keeping passenger records, providing passengers with information, food and equipment, and transporting between hotels and later to the waiting boats.
The court heard Daoed told potential passengers the group was the "best and cheapest smugglers", their route was the safest and they had "good facilities".
Mr Rice said it would be alleged Daoed's involvement was much more significant in the organising the second ill-fated journey, than the first. He was arrested and extradited from Sweden to face charges in Australia.
Sadeq Al-Abodie, who is now living in Finland, said he, his wife and daughter left Iran for Malaysia in July 2001 with a view to coming to Australia, and it was in a hotel there they met Daoed.
Mr Al-Abodie said he paid Daoed $US800 for his family to be included in a trip to Australia - on the ill-fated SIEV-X - and Daoed organised accommodation and transport to the coast for them and others, where they were taken to the boat.
He said women and children were taken on to the boat first, and by the time he boarded it was very crowded and took him up to two hours to find his family.
About 20 witnesses, mostly Iraqi refugees who have taken up residence in Finland, New Zealand and southern Australian states, will be called to give evidence with the assistance of an interpreter during the trial, which was expected to last at least three weeks.
photo caption:WITNESS ... Sadeq Al-Abodie, now from Finland.