People smuggler's non parole cut

March 31, 2006

A MAN who illegally shipped hundreds of people into Australia could be released from jail in two years time after a Perth judge slashed his non-parole time.

But stateless, Baghdad-born Palestinian Keis Abd Rahim Asfoor, 35, will not be allowed back into the West Australian community, and is expected to be shipped offshore or into Australian immigration detention upon his release from prison.

Asfoor was found guilty of people-smuggling earlier this month, after a retrial on charges of arranging for boats laden with Iraqi and Iranian asylum seekers to travel to Australia between March 1999 and September 2001.

The jury was told that after being marshalled to collection points across Indonesia, usually Lombok, dozens of people would board leaky fishing boats and travel to Ashmore Reef, 610km north of Broome, off the WA coast.

WA District Court judge Peter Martino today told Asfoor he was not the sole organiser of the seven people-smuggling voyages for which he was found guilty.

"You were not indifferent to the difficulties of the passengers and at times you went out of your way to assist them," Judge Martino said.

"Nevertheless, these were profit-making exercises and you were involved in them."

Judge Martino said he believed Asfoor had a good chance of rehabilitation and recognised he was a stateless person.

"Like the passengers who gave evidence at this trial, you are the victim of national and international forces beyond your control," he said.

The judge said the 10-year sentence imposed at Asfoor's first trial was appropriate, but he reduced the non-parole time from eight years to six years and six months dating from October 5, 2001, when he was first taken into custody.


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