People smuggler gets 12 years

December 16, 2004 - 5:12PM

A Pakistani man who masterminded a people smuggling operation that "cynically abused" the trust of 400 individuals was today jailed for up to 12 years by a West Australian court.

Hasan Ayoub, 34, was convicted in the West Australian District Court in November of two counts of facilitating the passage to Australia of a group of five or more people, contrary to the Migration Act.

The charges related to two boatloads of people who arrived at Christmas Island on March 25, 2001 and April 22, 2001 after paying as much as $US12,000 ($A15,727.39) for passage on the dangerously overcrowded, ill-equipped vessels.

In sentencing Ayoub today, Judge Peter Nisbet said the man also known as Naeem Ahmad Chaudhry had not cooperated with authorities, had shown no remorse for his actions, and had slight prospects for rehabilitation.

He was jailed for 12 years, with a minimum term of seven, backdated to the time of his arrest on December 19, 2001. Ayoub will become eligible for parole on December 18, 2008.

"Your actions involved the cynical manipulation and abuse of the trust of people who are often at the lowest ebb of their lives, having fled countries of their birth, their families and their jobs in many cases to avoid persecution," Judge Nisbet told the offender through an interpreter.

"You sent them to Australia in the knowledge that further privations might very well await them here, particularly if their refugee status is challenged or unclear."

The court was told Ayoub moved to Indonesia from Pakistan specifically to begin a people smuggling operation.

"A supply line fed refugees from the Middle East and Afghanistan to you in Indonesia, where you cynically took advantage of the endemic corruption in that country to bribe customs and immigration officials and the police to assist you in your illegal activities," Judge Nisbet said.

Ayoub had arranged for up to 400 people to leave on the first boat, but the passengers were culled back to 198 when the boat began to sink before leaving Indonesian waters.

Ayoub went on to put 201 people on a second vessel, with the jury at his trial hearing he netted millions of dollars from the trips.

"People smugglers like you need to be effectively deterred and undoubtedly the word will get back to other would-be people smugglers to Australia that people smugglers when caught are sent to jail for considerable periods of time," Judge Nisbet said.



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