Egyptian jailed for immigration violationsThursday, September 05, 2002
Muninggar Sri Saraswati
The Jakarta Post
Jakarta: The South Jakarta District Court sentenced an alleged people smuggler on Wednesday to six months in jail for entering the country illegally.
Defendant Mootaz Attia Mohammad Hasan, alias Jhon, who allegedly organized an ill-fated shipment of hundreds of Middle Eastern refugees bound for Australia last year, said he was still considering whether to appeal.
"I will think about it," said the Egyptian, who is also known as Abu Quassey.
The sentence was in accordance with the recommendation made by chief prosecutor Tarsono last week.
According to the court, Mootaz was guilty of violating Article 53 of Law No. 9/1992 on immigration, which carries a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment and a Rp 30 million fine.
Presiding Judge Rohendi told the court that the defendant, who was arrested on Nov. 4 last year, was guilty of entering the country illegally as the Immigration Directorate had declared him a persona non grata until Feb. 2, 2002.
The court ordered Mootaz, who has been detained by the immigration authorities for over 10 months, to serve his sentence before being deported.
The 29-year-old was allegedly responsible for the deaths of 374 of the 418 Iraqis on board an unseaworthy vessel that sank near Christmas Island. The boat was attempting to smuggle its human cargo to Australia from Lampung.
The incident led to increased tension between Indonesia and Australia.
But the state said it was unable to charge Mootaz with people smuggling due to lack of legislation on the issue, even though Mootaz was arrested for his alleged involvement in the tragedy.
Indonesia has long been a favorite transit point for boat people heading to Australia and the United States due of its vast territory and slack border controls.