Iraqi faces court over human trade
By Kathryn Shine
24 February 2003
THE first alleged people-smuggler to be extradited to Australia will face Darwin Magistrate's Court on 22 charges this morning.
Police will allege that Iraqi national Ali Hassan Abdolamir Al Jenabi was involved in the smuggling of 359 asylum-seekers to Australia on four boats between June 1, 2000, and August 20, 2001.
Al Jenabi usually lives and operates out of Indonesia but has been in a Thai jail since last April after he allegedly used false documents to enter Bangkok.
A Thai court agreed to Australia's request to extradite him in December. He had 15 days to lodge an appeal under Thai law, but did not.
Justice Minister Chris Ellison said four of the 22 people-smuggling charges carried maximum penalties of 20 years' jail.
"This is a very serious matter," he said. "Mr Al Jenabi is a person we have been pursuing for some time.
"It is alleged he was a serious player in relation to people-smuggling, and he faces very serious charges.
"This sends a very clear message to those involved in people-smuggling that they had better watch out, Australia will not give up."
An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said the charges related to boats that carried between 36 and 225 passengers. All four vessels were apprehended at Ashmore Reef. The first arrived on June 1, 2000; the last on August 20, 2001.
Senator Ellison said authorities were still working towards the extradition of Egyptian Mootaz Attia Mohammad Hasan, alias Abu Quassey, who allegedly masterminded the Siev X voyage in which 353 asylum-seekers drowned in October 2001.
Australian police have issued four warrants for his arrest.
"The Indonesians have had Abu Quassey in custody, and we are grateful to Indonesia for that, but we are bound by our extradition laws and that requires there be dual criminality," Senator Ellison said.
"People-smuggling is not an offence in Indonesia.
"We have been able to extradite Mr Al Jenabi because of the legal basis being there for that between Thailand and Australia.
"In relation to Abu Quassey, we are watching his situation very closely and if he goes anywhere other than Indonesia we'll be taking measures to intercept him."
Senator Ellison said authorities were endeavouring to extradite another person of interest from southeast Asia, and several other investigations were continuing.
"Certainly we don't see this as being the first and last of any people smugglers brought to Australia," he said.
"This is the first extradition we've had and we aim to have many more."