People-smuggler loses appeal

From: AAP By Johanna Leggatt
December 09, 2005

AN Iraqi jailed for nine years over a failed people smuggling voyage to Australia in which 353 asylum seekers died has failed to have his sentence reduced on appeal.

Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 37, was found guilty in June by a Brisbane Supreme Court jury for helping to organise the voyage to Australia of the SIEV-X, which capsized near Indonesia in October 2001. Daoed was acquitted of a second count of helping organise another boat, the Yambuck, which landed safely on Christmas Island in August 2001, carrying 147 asylum seekers.

Justice Philip McMurdo sentenced Daoed to nine years' jail over SIEV-X with a non-parole period of four-and-a-half years.

Daoed's lawyers appealed on the basis that he was unsure of his residency status once he was freed from jail and this added stress should be considered a mitigating circumstance.

Barrister Gary Long argued Daoed's sentence should be reduced to eight years with a non-parole period of four years.

However, in a unanimous judgment handed down today by the Queensland Court of Appeal, the three justices dismissed Daoed's appeal. "(The personal) considerations cannot diminish the seriousness of the offence ...," said Justice Pat Keane.

"The present is a case where the risks to human life which arose from the kind of commercial activity in which (Daoed) was engaged were very serious and readily apparent.

"They were risks that when realised, lead to an horrific loss of human life."

During his three week trial, the court was told Daoed was the "trusted assistant" of smuggling kingpin Abu Quassey in Indonesia and charged asylum seekers hundreds of dollars each for a seat on the ill-equipped SIEV-X.

Quassey is serving seven years in an Egyptian prison for his role in the affair.

The trial also proved to be a harrowing experience for many of the survivors giving evidence, two of whom needed to be taken to hospital after breaking down in the witness box.

Australian Democrats immigration spokesman Andrew Bartlett and refugee advocates have repeatedly called for an inquiry into the disaster, after witnesses claimed the Indonesian military aided the voyage.


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