Alleged people smuggler denies roleBy Johanna Leggatt
June 01, 2005
AN alleged people smuggler linked to a voyage to Australia on which 353 asylum seekers died has denied involvement, saying he was merely helping fellow refugees find housing and food in Indonesia, not smuggling them out.
Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 37, has pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court in Brisbane to one charge of people smuggling over the SIEV-X disaster in October 2001.
Only 45 people survived when the boat capsized in Indonesian waters [sic].
Mr Daoed, an Iraqi goldsmith, also pleaded not guilty to a second charge of aiding the illegal importation of 147 Iraqi asylum seekers to Australia on a separate vessel in August 2001.
The prosecution does not hold Mr Daoed responsible for the deaths of the asylum seekers but claims he was an essential go-between for smuggling boss Abu Quassey in Indonesia.
Quassey is serving seven years [sic] in an Egyptian jail for the deaths of the people on the SIEV-X.
Mr Daoed gave evidence today that as a UN refugee in Indonesia awaiting repatriation, he was able to help other asylum seekers out of compassion.
"Because of my status, I was able to freely go out and do the shopping for them and go to the (markets) so I did," he said.
He claimed he was not a smuggler and had no connection to Quassey in this respect.
When asked by his legal team whether or not he had accepted money off the refugees on behalf of Quassey, he was adamant.
"No, never happened," he said.
Mr Daoed said he spoke to a number of refugees about smuggling, but only because they asked his opinion.
"They would say who is the best, who's the cheapest, who is good, and I tell them what I hear," he told the court.
"But five minutes later, they are off and asking someone else the same advice because for them it is a 24-hour thing."
He said he also helped translate what Quassey was saying on occasions because the asylum seekers couldn't understand Quassey's Indonesian.
He also helped a family find accommodation in Indonesia because they were suffering, he told the court.
Previous witnesses have told the trial they paid up to $1300 for a seat on the boat.
At least two witnesses have also implicated the Indonesian Coastguard and police, claiming the voyage to Australia started with their assistance.
Mr Daoed was calm in the witness box today unlike in initial court proceedings, when he had wept uncontrollably.
The proceedings have also proven to be an emotional experience for the survivors, some of whom lost members of their families in the voyage.
In the first week of the trial, two witnesses broke down and were taken to a Brisbane hospital for treatment.
The trial continues.