Smuggler's exit pending
3 January 2003
By Patrick Walters, John Kerin
ALLEGED people-smuggler Mootaz Attia Mohammad Hasan was still being held at an immigration detention centre in West Jakarta late yesterday pending deportation to Egypt.
Mr Hasan, an Egyptian also known as Abu Quassey, is expected to leave by the weekend. Australian officials hope he can be detained en route, possibly in Bangkok.
Indonesian authorities say there's no prospect of his being extradited directly to Australia to face charges over organising the ill-fated voyage of SievX, because he can't be charged with people-smuggling under Indonesian law.
The boat sank in October 2001, drowning 353 people. Indonesia has assumed SievX went down in international waters off Java. As a result, Mr Hasan can't be charged under Indonesian law.
Lawyer Frans Hendra Winata told The Australian Mr Hasan could be charged with criminal negligence if it could be proved SievX sank in Indonesian waters.
'Regardless of his citizenship, if the crime was committed in Indonesia he could be tried,' Mr Winata said.
A Jakarta newspaper reported yesterday that an Australian request for Mr Hasan's extradition had been rejected. It said Indonesia had wanted Australia to hand over Sino-Indonesian banker Hendra Rahardya, who is wanted on corruption charges, in exchange.
A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Chris Ellison said last night Australia had made no application for Mr Hasan's extradition because there were no legal grounds to do so.
Australia has been pursuing Mr Hasan on four separate warrants for people-smuggling since early 2000.
According to Senator Ellison, the Government is exploring other legal options to bring the people-smugglers to justice.