Indonesian police 'aided SIEV-X'

seven.com.au
By Johanna Leggatt
19 May 2005

A bungled people smuggling operation that drowned 353 asylum seekers was aided by Indonesian police and coast guard, a Brisbane court was told on Wednesday.

Khaleed Shnayf Daoed has pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court to one charge of people smuggling over the SIEV-X disaster in October 2001.

The boat's engine broke down partway through the journey to Australia, causing it to fill with water and capsize off Indonesia, killing 353 of the 398 asylum seekers onboard.

Daoed has also pleaded not guilty to aiding the illegal importation of 147 Iraqi asylum seekers to Australia on a separate vessel in August 2001.

One of the survivors of the SIEV-X, Iraqi man Karim Al-Saaedy, told the court he had been told by people smuggling kingpin Abu Quassey they had the authorities on side.

Quassey is serving a seven year sentence in Egypt over the SIEV-X incident.

"Four or five of us confronted Abu Quassey because we wanted to know when the boat was going to leave," said Al-Saaedy.

"We were introduced to an officer who was in charge of coastal guards in Sumatra.

"(Quassey) said 'This officer is with the coast guard and also the Indonesian police is with us and just give us some time and hopefully we will be moving, God willing'."

Al-Saaedy, who negotiated a price of $US1,000 ($A1,300) for the trip for himself and his son, also said he was reassured by Quassey that the boat was of a high quality and had two water pumps.

He said his phone was taken off him for security reasons so that the "other Indonesian police won't know about you".

Another SIEV-X survivor, Sadeq Razaq Toullah Al-Abodie, told the court that Daoed had told him that there would be only 200 people on the boat, instead of 400.

Furthermore, Al-Abodie said, the asylum seekers handed over a deposit to the smugglers and left the remaining money with a "trusted person" who would pay the smugglers upon their safe arrival in Australia.

However, Al-Abodie testified that prior to leaving on the boat, the smugglers demanded the full amount.

"(Daoed) said: 'Whoever doesn't pay the money doesn't leave on the boat'," he said.

The trial continues.

Copyright 2005 AAP

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