Perth people smuggler identified

The Age (online)
November 29, 2003 - 6:05AM

A Perth kebab shop owner has become the third Turkish-born Australian accused of involvement in the running of a people-smuggling operation.

Hasan Demirci, a Kurdish refugee who arrived in Australia in 1994, was named by The Weekend Australian as the second kebab shop owner implicated in a people-smuggling operation.

The paper relied upon the statements of another Turkish asylum seeker who claimed to have paid $US5,000 ($A6,937) to Mr Demirci to secure entry to Australia.

Mosman kebab shop proprietor Ali Cetin has already denied allegations that he accepted money from Kurdish boatpeople in exchange for arranging passage to Australia.

Justice Minister Chris Ellison said that Mr Cetin was being investigated by he immigration department and federal police.

Mr Cetin says the confusion may have arisen because his brother Mehmet - a taxi driver in Turkey - shared the same name as one of the Kurds who was forced back from Melville Island to Jakarta earlier this month.

The Perth kebab shop operator, Mr Demirci, was reported to be the brother of Ali Demirci, who arrived in Australia in 1998 aboard the same refugee vessel that transported the paper's source for the story, Sydney man Siyami Gecer, 44.

In Jakarta earlier this week, the 14 Kurdish asylum seekers turned away from Australia earlier this month named him as the person who allegedly helped smuggle them to Melville Island on an Indonesian fishing boat.

Mr Cetin, 40, says he himself arrived in Australia from Turkey in 1998 aboard the same vessel as Ali Demirci after paying an Iranian man called Iran Ramazan $6,000 for his passage.

A third man, Mehmet Seriban, who is believed to be based in Jakarta, is the third man accused by the paper of being a player in the alleged people smuggling operation.

2003 AAP

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