Push for royal commission into SIEV-X disaster

Last Update: Thursday, June 9, 2005. 5:57am (AEST)

The Federal Government is under renewed pressure to establish a royal commission to investigate what it knew about a boatload of asylum seekers bound for Australia before the vessel capsized.

A 38-year-old Iraqi man was found guilty in a Brisbane court yesterday of organising the ill-fated SIEV-X voyage in which 353 people died in 2001.

Only 45 people survived when the vessel capsized en route from Indonesia to Christmas Island.

The Iraqi man now faces a maximum 20-year jail term for his involvement in the disaster.

Throughout the trial, survivors told how Indonesian police were present when the boat was loaded.

The verdict has provided little comfort to the survivors, who say many questions remain unanswered.

Rosemary Hudson Miller from the Uniting Church says only a royal commission can get to the bottom of the claims and what role Australia played.

"I think we've got a lot of allegations and some things that are unanswered," she said.

"Certainly Australia had notice of this boat coming, and the actions that we took subsequently to that really do need to be investigated."

"Those are the kinds of things that we need to establish beyond doubt in some kind of inquiry that has the authority to compel those witnesses to come forward And I think we need to, for our own sake, investigate whether we could have done things differently," she said

X-URL: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200506/s1387925.htm

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