People smuggling suspect will face Indonesian charges first
Lindsay Murdoch in Jakarta
Sydney Morning Herald
8 November 2001
Indonesian police are to prosecute an Egyptian man alleged to have organised the overcrowded boat that sank last month, killing more than 350 mostly Middle Eastern asylum seekers on their way to Australia.
A police spokesman, Colonel Prasetyo, said yesterday the man, Abu Quassey, would be dealt with under Indo nesian laws before any consideration is given to Canberra's request to extradite him to Australia.
Quassey, 36, was arrested in West Java on the weekend after a two-week hunt by a police team set up to target people smugglers who have reaped millions of dollars from asylum seekers trying to reach Australia.
Colonel Prasetyo said Quassey was likely to be charged with immigration offences because Indonesia does not have laws on people smuggling. "But we will consider extraditing him as requested by Australia," he said.
The Media Indonesia newspaper reported yesterday that Quassey had been arrested with two Indonesians, one a policeman. Police were hunting four others.
The newspaper quoted unnamed police sources as saying that Quassey admitted he organised the boat with the help of some police and soldiers but he denied pistol-whipping any of the asylum seekers who had wanted to get off the boat after it became dangerously overcrowded, as some of the survivors claimed.
Quassey was found to have two passports, one Egyptian and one Turkish, as well as three Indonesian identification cards.