Indonesia to hold people smuggler
31 December 2002
AFP - An Egyptian people smuggler who organised a deadly voyage to Australia for hundreds of Iraqi asylum-seekers will be detained by Indonesian immigration authorities on his release from prison Wednesday.
Mootaz Attia Mohammad Hasan, also known as Abu Quassey, is due to be released from Jakarta's Cipinang prison on Wednesday after having served a six-month sentence for visa-related offences.
Quassey is being sought by Australian authorities for organising the October 2001 voyage which led to the death of some 350 mostly Iraqi asylum-seekers as they headed for Australia in a dilapidated and overcrowded boat.
Jakarta has no law against people smuggling and could only detain him on visa-related offence.
Australian authorities have vowed to use Interpol to hunt Quassey if he disappears following his release from the Cipinang prison.
But Zailani, director of deportations for the Indonesian immigration department, told AFP Tuesday it was "absolutely impossible" that Quassey would wander freely after his release from prison.
Two immigration officers, probably accompanied by Indonesian police, would be waiting to collect Quassey from the prison early Wednesday morning, Zailani said.
The prisoner would be taken to an immigration detention centre to wait for his deportation to Egypt, he said.
"We will wait for a passport and ticket," Zailani said.
The Egyptian ambassador could not be reached for comment on whether his embassy was arranging the travel documents.
Dian Purwasantana, of Cipinang's registration division, told AFP that the embassy had been advised of Quassey's planned release and met with the prisoner on Monday.
Quassey has admitted in media interviews to organising the October 2001 voyage which led to the death of some 350 mostly Iraqi asylum-seekers as they headed for Australia in a dilapidated and overcrowded boat.
Survivors named Abu Quassey as the organiser of the doomed trip.
Australian police have issued international arrest warrants for Quassey on 76 offences relating to attempts to bring unlawful citizens into Australia.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) in December issued their fourth arrest warrant for Quassey for his alleged involvement in the October 2001 sinking and other people-smuggling cases.
The charges draw maximum penalties of 10-20 years' jail.
AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty has said an Interpol red alert could now be issued "and it will ensure the AFP is in a position, through the attorney general, to seek to extradite Mr Quassey should circumstances allow." The alert covers 170 countries.
Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison has said the government had failed in four attempts to have Quassey extradited to face people-smuggling charges in Australia as Indonesia did not have any people-smuggling laws.
"We will not relent in the pursuit of Abu Quassey. We will never give up," Ellison said Monday