People smuggler gets 12 years

By Tim Clarke
January 29, 2004

A PALESTINIAN man labelled as Australia's number one people-smuggler was jailed for 12 years today by a Perth judge.

Keis Abd Rahim Asfoor was convicted late last year of being the kingpin of a people-smuggling racket that brought as many as 1700 illegal immigrants to Australia from Indonesia.

After being found guilty of 12 charges by a Perth jury, Judge Shauna Deane sentenced Asfoor to 12 years jail, with a non-parole period of eight years.

Judge Deane said he "brazenly flouted" Australia's immigration laws by sending "desperate individuals on dangerous journeys" knowing that they would in all likelihood be detained on arrival in Australia.

Asfoor had faced up to 20 years in prison.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP), who tracked and eventually captured the 33-year-old, estimated the operation would have netted him as much as $6.3 million.

Western Australia's District Court had heard that Asfoor was the main facilitator that brought 12 boatloads of Iraqi and Iranian asylum seekers to Australia between March 1999 and September 2001.

Up to 353 people at a time would travel from Indonesia, usually Lombok, landing on Ashmore Reef, 610km north of Broome, off the WA coastline.

The six-week trial, which took more than two years to reach a jury, heard from almost 50 asylum seekers who claimed they had been brought to Australia in one of Asfoor's boats.

Asfoor was arrested at Perth International Airport in October 2001 when he tried to enter the country on a false Turkish passport under the alias Imam Dogan.



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