Swedish people-smuggler to be extradited to Australia
PM - Friday, 10 October, 2003 17:30:00
Reporter: Louise Yaxley
PETER CAVE: A man who allegedly organised a people smuggling operation which led to the drowning deaths of 353 people two years ago will be sent to Australia to face charges. The Swedish Government has agreed to an Australian request to extradite Khaleed Daoed.
Daoed is an Iraqi alleged to have played an important role in organising the Siev X trip which led to the 353 deaths in October 2001 and the voyage of another vessel in August that year.
The Federal Opposition, which pursued the Siev X matter during the "children overboard" senate inquiry, says anything which can bring a better understanding of the tragedy is welcome.
The Justice Minister, Chris Ellison, welcomes Sweden's decision as a breakthrough.
He spoke to Louise Yaxley.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Minister, do you expect the alleged people smuggler to be back in Australia in time for the second anniversary of the deaths of the 353 people?
CHRIS ELLISON: For operational reasons we can't put a date on the arrival of Mr Daoed in Australia. Certainly we want that to occur very soon and the Australian Federal Police are putting in place measures to escort him to Australia.
But suffice to say that we are very pleased to say that the decision by the Swedish government to extradite him to Australia and of course this is the culmination of a long standing effort by Australia to bring Mr Daoed to justice.
LOUISE YAXLEY: You asked Sweden to extradite him in May. Why has it taken til October for them to agree?
CHRIS ELLISON: By international standards, that is quite expeditious, because I can assure you that in other jurisdictions and even in Australia, extradition proceedings can go for a lot longer. We're very grateful for the cooperation of the Swedish authorities in this matter and of course we welcome the decision by Sweden to extradite Mr Daoed to Australia.
Of course Mr Daoed is a person that we want to face justice in Australia in relation to people smuggling activities in 2001, particularly in relation to Siev X, which resulted in the tragic loss of life, 353 people losing their lives, and of course the anniversary of that occurs on the 21st of October this year so it's quite timely.
LOUISE YAXLEY: He comes to face people smuggling charges. Some have suggested there should be manslaughter charges over Siev X. What do you say to that?
CHRIS ELLISON: He's been extradited in relation to people smuggling charges, that's the basis on which we've prepared our brief. I would remind those people who think we should be looking at manslaughter charges, that the maximum penalty for people smuggling charges upon conviction has 20 years imprisonment.
Now, that is a substantial period of imprisonment, which would be on par with a manslaughter charge in any event. Now, he's facing 13 charges. I can't pre-empt what a court might do or what might not do in the event of a conviction, but certainly we have very heavy penalties involved in the legislation upon a conviction.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Abu Quassey is in Egypt, he's another alleged organiser of that Siev X trip. What is Australia doing in regard to him?
CHRIS ELLISON: Mr Abu Quassey has been a man of some interest to Australia and we've been pursuing him for some time.
You need to remember that we tried to extradite him from Indonesia. For legal reasons that wasn't possible. We pursued him from Indonesia to Egypt when he was deported, we made our position very clear to Egyptian authorities that we wanted him in Australia.
The Egyptian authorities decided that they would prosecute him in relation to events surrounding Siev X and they are now trying him for that. We are assisting the Indonesian authorities in every way possible with their prosecution.
LOUISE YAXLEY: Does that mean that we'll be helping witnesses go over for any trial?
CHRIS ELLISON: We've had Australian Federal Police attend Egypt to liase with authorities there and of course, we stand ready to assist, but it depends on the prosecuting authorities in Egypt - we can't run their case for them, that would be improper - but what we can do is tell them what we've got by way of evidence and information and we'll assist them whatever way we can.
PETER CAVE: The Justice Minister Chris Ellison.