People smuggler jailed

Herald Sun

A MAN who smuggled more than 250 asylum-seekers into Australia on wooden fishing boats could be released from prison within two years.

Iraqi national Ali Hassan Abdolamir Al Jenabi was the first people smuggler extradited to Australia. The 33-year-old was jailed for his role in bringing three boatloads of asylum-seekers to Ashmore Reef from Indonesia in 2000 and 2001.

He was sentenced yesterday in the Northern Territory Supreme Court to eight years' jail.

His non-parole period of four years was backdated to his arrest in Thailand in June 2002.

The maximum penalty was 20 years' jail and/or a $200,000 fine.

Al Jenabi's lawyer, Jon Tippett QC, said outside court his client was "extremely pleased".

"This man is quite different to other people smugglers. He became involved in getting his family out of a country where they had been persecuted and suffered quite grievously."

Justice Dean Mildren found Al Jenabi's primary motivation was not money but getting his family to Australia.

His passengers included his mother and five siblings, who are now in Australia on temporary protection visas.

The court heard Al Jenabi and his family escaped Iraq in the 1990s and unsuccessfully applied to come to Australia as refugees.

Al Jenabi had spent seven years as a political prisoner at an Iraqi prison.

While Al Jenabi organised the boatloads of mainly Iraqis and Iranians he was not the main smuggler, Justice Mildren said.

He said Indonesian immigration officials, police and navy were often bribed during the trips.


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