Iraqi to face court over death boat

By Kevin Meade
The Australian
5 April 2004

THE controversy over the deaths of 353 asylum-seekers who drowned when the Siev X sank on its way from Indonesia to Australia in 2001 will be reignited today when an Iraqi man faces a Brisbane court on charges of people-smuggling.

A hearing will determine whether Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 36, should stand trial for his alleged involvement in organising the ill-fated voyage of the boatpeople.

Daoed will face Brisbane Magistrates Court on 12 charges of aiding illegal immigration, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail. The small and overcrowded fishing boat sank in heavy seas about 60 nautical miles south of Indonesia on October 19 2001. The boat, which has since become known as Siev X - standing for "suspected illegal entry vehicle, name unknown" - was carrying 397 people, mainly Afghan and Iraqi asylum-seekers, when it sank on its way from Indonesia to Australia. Only 44 survived.

The ringleader of the Siev X people-smuggling operation, Egyptian Abu Quassey, was sentenced to seven years' jail by an Egyptian court in December after he was found guilty of homicide through negligence and aiding illegal immigration.

Quassey was arrested by Indonesian authorities and deported to Egypt.

Daoed, a refugee from Iraq, was also arrested in Indonesia, but later released.

He went to Sweden in March 2002 and lived in that country until he was extradited to Australia in November last year.

The Siev X sank just 12 days after the infamous "children overboard" incident, in which the Howard Government falsely claimed asylum-seekers threw their children into the sea when their boat, dubbed the Siev-4, was intercepted by an Australian navy vessel.

Refugee activists have campaigned for a full inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Siev X sinking, including an investigation of claims the boat may have been sabotaged in a joint operation by Australian Federal Police and Indonesian police to disrupt people-smuggling operations.

The allegations have been strongly denied by the Howard Government.


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