Indonesian police bribed: Asylum seeker
West Australian
11 August 2003


INDONESIAN coastal police demanded a $US20,000 ($30,730) bribe from a boatload of asylum seekers headed for Australia, a Darwin court was told today.

However, they had to settle for $US2000 ($A3073), some gold jewellery and watches because the 220 boatpeople had already given all their money to the people smugglers who organised their treacherous journey.

The claim was made by an Iraqi-born asylum seeker, now living in Australia on a temporary protection visa, during the committal hearing of the first alleged people smuggler to be extradited to Australia.

Ali Hassan Abdolamir Al Jenabi is facing 22 charges that he allegedly helped smuggle more than 350 people to Australia on four boats in 2000 and 2001.

The 27-year-old asylum seeker told the court he travelled from Iran to Malaysia, Indonesia and finally Australia with his mother, sister and eight-year-old nephew in 2001.

He paid a people smuggler $US2,100 ($A3,226) to organise the week-long journey from an Indonesian beach to Australia aboard a 24-metre boat with more than 200 others in 2001.

The man said the boat left Indonesia under the cover of darkness, but was stopped about three or four days into the journey by Indonesian coastal police.

"The police were wearing uniforms and they were armed," the man said in a statement handed up in court.

"They boarded our boat and when they saw the tired women and children they said that they had to detain us.

"We thought that what they wanted was money.

"The captain said to us that it was better to collect some money and give it to them."

However, the police said they would not accept the Indonesian currency and took the captain away onto their boat for several hours.

"The captain said that they wanted $US20,000 ($A30,730)," the man said in the statement.

"We said that we had given all our money to Ali Al Jenabi, where could we get the money from.

"The captain collected what we had, which was about $US2000 ($A3073), golden rings, chains, watches and the Indonesian money.

.".. the captain said that he told police that we had given everything we had and they should accept it."

The boat was then allowed to leave, sailing for another few days before washing up on Ashmore Reef and being intercepted by Australian authorities.

Several witnesses, including the man, were unable to identify Al Jenabi in court today, with lawyers for the accused indicating the question of identity may form part of his defence.

More than 100 witnesses from around Australia have been listed for the committal hearing, although the written statements of some witnesses may be tendered to the court. -AAP

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