Asylum seeker tells court of sinking horror

ABC Website
Last Update: Tuesday, April 6, 2004. 5:20pm (AEST)

An Iraqi asylum seeker has told a Brisbane court of events surrounding the sinking of a boat carrying more than 400 asylum seekers while en route to Christmas Island three years ago.

The Commonwealth is prosecuting alleged smuggler Khaled Daoed, 36, accusing him of helping to organise a deadly voyage of the Siev-X.

The boat sank in 2001, killing more than 350 people.

Farris Fadel Kadhem, 36, told the Brisbane Magistrate's Court of fleeing Iraq with his family and arriving in Indonesia with the intention of getting to Australia.

Mr Kahem says that despite not looking in Indonesia, he had no problems finding people smugglers.

He says Iraqi asylum seekers quickly learnt that the Super Bizarre Shopping centre in the city of Cesaura was a hub for smugglers.

Mr Kadhem says it is where he twice organised trips to Australia for his family, including his own trip, through the jailed smuggler Daoed is accused of helping.

Mr Kadhem also told of the terrifying events surrounding the sinking of the modified Indonesian fishing boat.

He says disaster struck when the boats water pump broke down and says women and children were screaming and jumping into the water as the boat sank by mid-afternoon.

Mr Kadhem says while in the water he heard a plane circle overhead and that night large vessels and a smaller boat shone large lights onto the group who screamed for help, but the boats disappeared.

He then got to his feet and asked the court "tell me what does these vessels mean?"

He asked were they commercial vessels, tourists or military and asked the court to investigate.


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