MAJOR BREAKING NEWS ON SIEVX SINKING
7 September 2003
The lead news item run by the ABC today of a Reuters story is of crucial importance. It means there will be another chance to try to uncover the truth of SIEVX's sinking.
I do not know what Egypt's standards of jurisprudence in this matter will be, but already Egypt is doing more than Australia or Indonesia ever did in the last 23 months - it is putting Abu Quassey on trial for the alleged manslaughter of 350 (sic) people who died on SIEVX. This of itself deserves congratulation.
The issue now is whether Quassey will have a fair trial that exposes all the evidence. The best information resources for locating survivors and bringing them to Cairo to testify are on www.sievx.com. I trust the Egyptian Prosecutor's Office staff will research the data collected on this site carefully, in particular the original survivors' accounts as reported extensively by media at the time and by Keysar Trad and Ghassan Nakhoul subsequently.
The 45 [sic] survivors are now scattered as refugees around the world but with the help of the IOM and UNHCR, if not the Australian Government the Egyptian Prosecutor could readily locate them all. Most of the survivors were given permanent residence as refugees in humane countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland and Canada. Unlike the seven survivors in Australia who are on Temporary Protection Visas, the other 38 survivors will not have to consider the possible adverse impact of their testimony on their chances for securing permanent residency. The testimony of these 45 survivors as a whole will help establish the facts of what Quassey and his three Middle Eastern associates ( Khaled Daoed, Maysam and Maysar) did, and the role of their powerful Indonesian police partners and protectors.
Egypt is putting on trial an Egyptian, but it is also putting on trial a man suspected of having taken part in the planned deterrent sinking of a boat that killed 353 fellow human beings, mostly Iraqi Muslim women and children. I believe the chances of a fair trial in Egypt are good, especially if the international press takes an interest in reporting the trial.
Quassey's trial is of world significance - the world needs to know whether it is right or wrong if government agencies arrange clandestinely to have refugee boats sunk as a deterrent against their trying to reach wealthy countries. This trial is not just about a sea tragedy between Indonesia and Australia. It is about uncovering a crime against humanity.
This prosecution is good news. I look to Australian media to follow the upcoming trial in Cairo closely. The Australian Government's people smuggling disruption program will, I believe, be found eventually to be part of this story. The Australian people have a right to know what happens in this trial.