Sweden holds man in Australia people smuggling case
By Patrick McLoughlin
23 May 2003 16:30:27 GMT
(Adds Swedish, Australian comment, previous CANBERRA)
STOCKHOLM, May 23 (Reuters) - An Iraqi alleged to have played a key role in organising a voyage on which 353 asylum seekers drowned when the ship sank was remanded in custody in Sweden on Friday at Australia's request.
A district court near Stockholm found that 36-year-old Khaleed Shnayf Daoed had a case to answer on unspecified Australian immigration charges. Swedish police arrested him at the request of Australian authorities on Thursday.
The Australian government said Daoed was arrested after an international investigation. He is suspected of being involved in the voyage of the SIEV-X, a ship loaded with asylum seekers which sank on its way to Australia from Indonesia in 2001, drowning 353 passengers.
"We welcome the fact that Mr Daoed has been arrested pending extradition to Australia," Australian ambassador Richard Rowe told Reuters.
In Australia, people smuggling carries a maximum penalty of 20 years jail under tough laws introduced in 1999.
"We have had a preliminary hearing and the judge found that he should be remanded in custody," said chief public prosecutor Thomas Haggstrom at Sandviken court, near Stockholm.
He said Australia had 40 days to submit a formal application for Daoed's extradition, which would go to the Swedish Supreme Court and then to the Justice Ministry for a final decision. Haggstrom would not detail the charges against Daoed.
Justice Ministry spokeswoman Cecilia Bergman said the whole extradition process could take several months. Sweden has an extradition treaty with Australia dating back to 1973.
Australia is trying to extradite another man, Egyptian Mootaz Muhammad Hasan, alias Abu Quassey, in connection with the SIEV-X, which was overloaded with migrants, mostly Afghans and Iraqis, when it sank.
Hasan was detained in Egypt after being deported from Indonesia, a stepping stone for Middle Eastern and Afghan asylum seekers trying to reach Australia.
An Australian statement said that if Cairo refused to extradite Hasan, Canberra would seek his prosecution in Egypt. (Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith in Canberra)