Matthew Moore Herald Correspondent in Jakarta
Sydney Morning Herald
26 April 2003

The Egyptian people smuggler known as Abu Quassey arrived in Cairo yesterday, ending Australia's unsuccessful attempt to extradite him to face court for his role in the deaths of more than 350 asylum seekers.

Egypt's ambassador to Indonesia, Ezzar Saad El Sayed, said Abu Quassey, whose real name is Mootaz Muhammad Husan, had been escorted to Egypt and locked up.

He said he would remain in detention until he faced charges over his role in organising the vessel known as SIEV-X. which sank during the 2001 Australian election campaign, drowning 353 of the mainly Iraqi passengers.

Despite claims by Australia early this year that Egypt had no law under which Abu Quassey could be prosecuted, Dr El Sayed said the Egyptian legal code had certain provisions covering offences outside Egypt that would be used against him. 'We are committed to prosecuting him. We have even provided the Australians and the Indonesians with the relevant section of our criminal code'.

Dr El Sayed said the Australian embassy in Cairo would provide evidence to help in Abu Quassey's prosecution.

He said the Indonesian Government's decision to hand Abu Quassey to Egypt rather than Australia was conditional on written undertakings provided by Egypt assuring the Indonesians that he would be prosecuted.

With no law against people smuggling in Indonesia, Abu Quassey was convicted of visa offences for which he served six months in jail.

For the past four months he had been held in an immigration detention centre while Australia, Indonesia and Egypt contested the right to obtain him.

Australia has issued four warrants covering 75 alleged people smuggling offences by him.

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