Tell all on people smuggler, Opposition urges Govt
4 January 2003
The federal Opposition called on the Government yesterday to reveal whether alleged Egyptian people-smuggler Abu Quassey's deportation route from Indonesia would prevent Interpol from arresting him.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said the Government should reveal the route Quassey would take on his journey home to Egypt.
Australia has issued four international arrest warrants for Quassey on people-smuggling matters, including the SIEV-X disaster in which 353 asylum-seekers drowned, and has placed him on the Interpol red alert list.
"It is time for [Foreign Affairs Minister] Mr Downer and [Justice Minister Chris] Ellison to break their silence on the Abu Quassey matter, including their negotiations with the Indonesian Government and the Egyptian Government on Abu Quassey's deportation route," Mr Rudd said.
Quassey could not be extradited from Indonesia or Egypt.
With no direct flights to Egypt from Jakarta, the Australian Government hoped Quassey would be detained while stopping over in a city such as Singapore or Bangkok.
But Mr Rudd said he was concerned Quassey may be deported to Egypt using a route which would prevent the application of an Interpol warrant on him.
"It is time to inform the Australian public of whether there is any chance that a deportation route may be agreed upon which would in effect evade Interpol interception and arrest," he said.
Quassey, whose official name is Mootaz Attia Mohammad Hasan, was released on New Year's Day from Jakarta's Cipinang prison to an immigration holding facility after six months in jail for visa violations.
Indonesian immigration officials said yesterday they had no immediate plans to deport him because they were still trying to prosecute him for other immigration offences.
Three of Australia's arrest warrants related to the arrival of people-smuggling vessels between February 2000 and August 2001. The fourth, the most serious, related to Quassey's involvement in organising the people-smuggling boat SIEV-X.
Attorney-General Daryl Williams said the Australian Government and federal police were doing everything they could to extradite Quassey but "they're not proposing to foreshadow to Mr Abu Quassey what steps they're taking". AAP