Witnesses sought for SIEV X Trial
extract from Unity, no. 354
2 October 2003

X-URL: http://www.unaa.org.au/news354.htm

[10] Witnesses sought for Siev X trial

Survivors of the SIEV X tragedy, in which 350 people drowned off Indonesia on their way to seeking asylum in Australia, are being sought around the world to give evidence at the Cairo trial of the alleged SIEV X voyage organiser, Mootaz Muhamad Hasan, usually known as Abu Quassey, for the alleged manslaughter.

Non-government organisations in Australia and their contacts overseas, concerned individuals, governments and public servants are being asked to help find survivors who would be prepared to testify.

The trial resumes on October 25 and the prosecution is now preparing its case. Several countries including Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand accepted a number of the survivors as permanent refugees. Australia gave seven of them Temporary Protection Visas.

Tony Kevin, a former Australian Ambassador who has pursued Australia's possible involvement in the tragedy, says, "I do not know who went where, or even their names, because Australian government and relevant international agencies (UNHCR. IOM) have declined to release such information about survivors. We do have some survivor data, gleaned from public media reporting – it is listed on www.sievx.com/

He says, "Unless a large number of survivors testify, including many of those who found permanent protection and refuge in humanitarian countries, justice will not be done and will not be seen to be done.

"A small number of vulnerable witnesses – there would not be more than three or four available at the most - flown from Australia to Egypt by courtesy and at the expense of the Australian Federal Police, should not carry the whole burden of the prosecution case. This evidentiary burden needs to be widely shared among many."

He is seeking up to 78 potentially available witnesses, who experienced all or part of this doomed voyage and has asked the governments of countries that have received SIEV X refugees to:

  • Promptly advise all SIEV X survivors in their country about the upcoming trial;
  • Advise them of their rights to testify, in person or by legally sworn declaration, if they so wish;
  • Consider how governments or interested NGOs in the country (eg UN support or human rights organisations) might offer to assist them administratively and financially to testify in this trial, if they so wish.

For more information, contact Tony Kevin, 02 6295 6588 or 0414 822 171,

Minister for Immigration's office (02) 6277 7860 website: www.immi.gov.au

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison 02 6277 7260 or (08) 8328 3688

Opposition spokesperson on immigration, Nicola Roxon MP (02) 6277 2039 or (03) 9687 7355

UNHCR, Canberra 02 6290 1355 e-mail: AULCA@unhcr.ch

High Commission of Canada, Canberra (02) 6270 4000 website: www.canada.org.au

Embassy of Finland, Canberra (02) 6273 3800 e-mail: finland@dynamite.com.au

High Commission of New Zealand, Canberra (02) 6270 4211

Embassy of Norway, Canberra (02) 6273 3444 e-mail: noramb@ibm.net

Embassy of Sweden, Canberra (02) 6270 2700 e-mail: sweden@netinfo.com.au

See also item [22] Refugee contacts in the supplement to UNity 354

For information related to the trial plus detailed research, informed analysis, passenger database, survivor accounts, CMI and Hansard transcripts, visit Marg Hutton's comprehensive archive on the SIEV X tragedy. www.sievx.com/

Jannah the SIEV X Memorial: www.refugeeaction.org/jannah/memorial.html


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