Soldiers people smuggling: agent

By Ainsley Pavey
April 7, 2004

AN AUSTRALIAN Federal Police officer today told a court he had evidence Indonesian soldiers and immigration officials were involved in international people smuggling.

Federal agent Andrew Warton told Brisbane Magistrates Court he had "no idea" why no attempts were made to identify Indonesian officials accused of taking bribes from people smugglers.

The claims were made following the Siev-X boat disaster off Christmas Island in 2001 in which 353 people drowned.

"That's a matter well beyond my bounds," Mr Warton told a committal hearing for alleged people smuggler Khaleed Daoed.

"Certainly, some of the witness statements contained those facts ... those allegations were certainly raised ... but the focus of the investigation was on the principal offenders."

Commonwealth prosecutors allege Daoed was part of an operation which ended with the deaths of the mainly Middle Eastern illegal immigrants in the boating disaster.

Iraqi-born Daoed, 37, has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges under Australia's Migration Act over the Siev-X, which sank on October 19, 2001, on the journey from Indonesia.

He has also pleaded not guilty to involvement in an earlier voyage from Indonesia which landed safely on Christmas Island with 147 people on board on August 4, 2001.

Smuggling mastermind Abu Quassey is serving a seven-year sentence in Egypt after being tried last year over the Siev-X disaster.

The court was told Daoed was extradited last year from Sweden to face the charges under Australian laws.

Mr Warton confirmed a third suspected smuggler known as Maythem was being investigated.

However, he claimed privilege during his evidence against giving further information.

"It is an ongoing investigation," he told the court.

In earlier evidence, a passenger on board the successful voyage to Christmas Island told the court he was threatened with a gun when he tried to pull out of the trip.

Mohammad Jawish told the hearing an angry Quassey pulled out the weapon and threatened to kill him at a hotel in the Indonesian village of Cipinas before being calmed down by Daoed and Maythem.

The Syrian man said he was persuaded by other passengers at the hotel where the asylum seekers stayed before the trip to go on the boat which landed safely several days later.

The Daoed hearing was today adjourned until July 21, with up to 20 witnesses still to give evidence.

Daoed was remanded in custody.


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