People smuggler handed 8-year jail term

Friday Apr 7 18:56 AEST

A Pakistani man who played a principal role in an international people smuggling racket has been sentenced to eight years in jail and is likely to be deported on his release.

Masood Ahmad Chaudhry was sentenced in the West Australian District Court on Friday after he was found guilty earlier this month of two counts of intent to illegally bring non-citizens to Australia.

The charges related to the arrival of a 20-metre vessel with 201 people aboard at Christmas Island on April 22, 2001.

His trial was told that from Pakistan, Chaudhry helped organise passports and plane tickets for people who had paid up to $6,000 to illegally travel to Australia.

In sentencing Chaudhry, Judge Shauna Deane said there was no doubt he played a prominent role in the sophisticated operation, and had significant decision-making powers.

"There is no doubt, on the evidence, that you were a vital link in the chain, as it were, and you were directly involved on occasion in discussions regarding the cost of travel," Judge Deane said.

She said racket was sophisticated, and involved moving people between various locations to minimise their chances of being caught.

The people who had paid money to Chaudhry to illegally travel to Australia were exploited, Judge Deane said.

"The journey they undertook in the ill-equipped fishing boat to Christmas Island from Indonesia was somewhat perilous and placed their health and safety at considerable risk," she said.

Chaudhry must serve at least four years before he is eligible for parole.

İAAP 2006


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