|Joint News Release|
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Minister for Justice and Customs
28 December 2003
PEOPLE SMUGGLER ABU QUASSEY FOUND GUILTYThe Australian Government welcomes the news that an Egyptian court has found Abu Quassey guilty of charges relating to people smuggling.
The charges against Abu Quassey included causing death through negligence of an estimated 350 people on the vessel SIEV-X in October 2001.
The verdict was handed down on 27 December 2003 with the court sentencing Quassey to seven years gaol.
Bringing Abu Quassey to justice for his participation in smuggling people to Australia from the Middle East and South Asia has been a high priority for the Australian Government.
The Australian Government would have preferred Abu Quassey to face an Australian court and had previously sought his extradition, however, we welcomed the decision by Egyptian authorities to prosecute him and offered Egypt as much assistance as legally possible.
We would also like to acknowledge the efforts of officers from the Australian Federal Police, Attorney-General's Department, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs for their strong assistance to Egyptian authorities.
We cannot make any further comment on the case as Abu Quassey has options under Egyptian law to appeal the decision.
The Australian Government remains committed to bringing people smugglers to justice.