People smuggler informant wanted revenge

AAP, The West Australian
June 2, 2010, 3:58 pm

An Iraqi asylum seeker who worked for people smugglers in Indonesia while being a paid informant for Australian authorities has given evidence against an accused smuggler.

In the Perth District Court today, Waleed Sultani said he had worked with Hadi Ahmadi in Java in 2000 and 2001, assisting asylum seekers wanting to board boats to Australia.

Mr Ahmadi, 34, was extradited to Australia from Indonesia on people-smuggling charges in May 2009.

He has pleaded not guilty to 21 charges of illegally assisting more than 900 asylum seekers on four boats to reach Christmas Island between March and August 2001.

Under questioning from crown prosecutor Ron Davies, Mr Sultani said he and Mr Ahmadi worked for people smuggler Sayeed Omeid in Jakarta.

He said their job was to meet prospective passengers, sign them up with Mr Omeid and look after them.

"We have to talk with them to be passengers for Omeid," he said.

They found hotels for the passengers and when boats were ready to leave, organised buses and accompanied them to the departure points, Mr Sultani said.

"I did that many times with Hadi."

Mr Sultani, a former tank commander in the Iraqi army who fled dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, said Mr Ahmadi collected money from the passengers, always in US dollars, to pay Mr Omeid.

He said that while he was working for Mr Omeid and two other people smugglers, Hasan Ayoub and Ali Jenabi, he was regularly reporting to the Australian embassy in Jakarta on their activities.

Mr Sultani said he had originally paid Mr Omeid $US2000 ($2398) to be put on a boat for Australia, but when that fell through, the money was not refunded and he had no choice but to work for him to try to get his money back.

Working as an informant for Australian authorities was a chance for payback.

Mr Sultani came to Australia in 2002 and was provided with accommodation by the Australian Federal Police until 2005.

He is now an Australian citizen and in 2004, was a witness in the trials of Ayoub and Ali Jenabi in Perth and Darwin.

When questioned, Mr Sultani said that after the pair were convicted and jailed for people smuggling in 2004, he was given a $250,000 reward for his work for the AFP.

He said he had given information on people smuggling on the condition he would not be charged.

Under questioning from defence counsel Jonathan Davies, Mr Sultani said he fled Iraq during Saddam's rule and could not go back for fear of arrest and persecution.

He said Hadi Ahmadi's family were well known in Iraq and he agreed they were "of very high character".

On Tuesday, the jury heard that Mr Ahmadi was the son of a Shi'ite ayatollah who was killed during the failed uprising against Saddam in 1991 during the first Gulf War.

The trial, set down for 10 weeks, continues before Judge Andrew Stavrianou.


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