Ruddock not guilty about boat people deaths
Sydney Morning Herald
(Breaking News)
26 October 2001

AAP: Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said today he would not be made to feel guilty for the deaths of hundreds of boat people last week.

About 350 asylum seekers died when their overloaded and leaky boat sank in Indonesian waters on Friday.

The people smuggler who organised the illfated trip was to blame for the deaths, he said.

Mr Ruddock also reiterated his earlier comments that the boat people had to take responsibility for their own actions.

"The real issue here is there was a smuggler, he took money from these people, they paid him because they wanted him to bring them to Australia, to break our law," Mr Ruddock told an Arabic radio program on Sydney radio station 2ME.

"When that happens and there's a very sad outcome, I'm not responsible for it, the Australian people are not responsible for it.

"If there are people that should be punished, it's the organiser who put them on boat which he would have known, and others would have known, was unsafe.

"I'm not going to be made to feel guilty about people who put themselves in the hands of smugglers and who pay large amounts of money knowing that they're going to break our law."

Mr Ruddock also called for an inquiry into allegations by the survivors of the tragedy that they were forced at gunpoint onto the boat by Indonesian police.

"I don't know whether that happened or not," he said.

"There needs to be an inquiry to find out what's occurred and I want to see that happen."

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