Govt. to deport alleged smuggler
28 January 2003
JAKARTA (JP): The government will deport an Egyptian to either Egypt or Australia to face charges of organising a boat trip in 2001 for asylum-seekers that sank, drowning hundreds of Afghans and Iraqis, Justice and Human Rights Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said on Monday.
He said that he was awaiting an official responsefrom the Egyptian embassy in Jakarta as to whether the Cairo government would prosecute the man, identified as Abu Quassey, if he was deported from Indonesia.
"If Quassey will be prosecuted in Egypt in accordance to that country's existing laws, we will consider deporting him to Egypt, rather than to Australia," Yustil said, which was quoted by dpa as saying.
Quassey, alias Mootaz Attia Muhammad Hasan, is wanted in Australia for allegedly arranging a voyage from Indonesia to Australia in October 2001 onwhich 353 people, most of them Afghans and Iraqis, drowned when their overcrowded vessel sank in the Indian Ocean.
Quassey, who had already served a six-month jail term for visa violations in Indonesia, is still under investigation by police for his alleged involvement in the tragedy.
Yustil said the government was also considering a request by Australia to hold a joint investigation into Quassey's case, but added that if Australia demanded the suspect be deported directly to Canberra, "we would have to consider the request seriously."
Recent news reports quoted Australian officials as saying that due to lack of an agreement with Indonesia on dual criminality for people smuggling, Quassey could not be extradited directly from Indonesia, although he may be deported.