People smuggler's conviction sparks SIEV-X inquiry push

Last Update: Wednesday, June 8, 2005. 3:41pm (AEST)

A refugee advocates group is calling for an inquiry into the 2001 SIEV-X maritime disaster, which led to the deaths of more than 350 asylum seekers en route to Australia.

The call comes after a Brisbane jury found one of the organisers guilty of aiding in the people-smuggling operation.

Khaleed Daoed, 38, was extradited from his adopted country of Sweden to face trial.

The jury took two days to decide the former Iraqi goldsmith was guilty for his role.

His role included taking money from refugees in Indonesia and helping them arrive at and board the ill-fated SIEV-X boat, which later capsized.

Western Australian Refugee Alliance coordinator Sue Hoffman says the verdict raises awareness about the incident and warrants further investigation.

"This is no political stunt, 353 people died, 146 of them were kids. It needs an inquiry," Ms Hoffman said.

Ms Hoffman says the alliance also wants to know why men dressed as Indonesian police allegedly helped load hundreds of refugees onto a fishing boat.

Throughout the three-week trial survivors gave evidence alleging police were present when the boat was loaded.

Ms Hoffman says more investigation is needed.

"To my knowledge there hasn't been any serious investigation into the level of involvement of the Indonesian police whether it was a few renegade Indonesian police, exactly what was the situation?"

Ms Hoffman also wants the Federal Government to release the SIEV-X passenger list.

Daoed will be sentenced after a psychological report is completed.

He is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says the conviction provides some solace to those who lost family members.

Mr Ruddock says the Australian law has been able to see that justice has been done.

"People smuggling is a very serious offence but it ends so tragically as SIEV-X did with so many people losing their lives those responsible should be held accountable."


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