People smuggler deserves jail: court

Adam Gartrell
AAP
September 1, 2009

Indonesian prosecutors have called for four years' jail for an alleged people smuggling kingpin who arranged an ill-fated sea voyage to Australia that left at least nine asylum-seekers dead.

Ali Cobra, also known as Ali Kobra, Labasa Ali, Ali Basa and Sultan Ali, has been described as a "big fish" of the Indonesian people smuggling underworld.

The 35-year-old was arrested in May in a joint operation between Indonesian and Australian police.

He is accused of helping to organise a brazen breakout from an immigration detention centre in West Timor last January, before putting 18 escaped asylum seekers on a fishing boat bound for Australia.

But at least nine people - including a nine-year-old boy - drowned when the boat capsized in rough seas just hours later.

Because people smuggling is not a crime in Indonesia, authorities have charged Cobra with helping suspected illegal immigrants and helping immigration detainees escape.

In the Kupang District Court on Tuesday, prosecutor Harry Achmad Dwi Maryono said Cobra should be jailed for four years and fined 15 million rupiah, or about $A1,800.

Maryono said the sentence was appropriate because Cobra's actions had resulted in loss of life.

Cobra did not deserve a harsher sentence because he had no criminal record, admitted his guilt and had been "polite" throughout the trial, Maryono said.

Cobra, who does not have a lawyer, pleaded for a short sentence.

"Judges, please give me leniency, because I have a wife and children in Sulawesi," he said.

The court will sentence Cobra on September 9.

2011 AAP

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