Revenge drove Iraqi informer on people-smuggler

Debbie Guest
The Australian
June 03, 2010 12:00AM

After giving a people-smuggler $2000 and not getting his promised trip to Australia, former Iraqi soldier Waleed Sultani decided to go to the Australian embassy in Jakarta and become a double agent and informant.

And as a reward for infiltrating the cross-border people-smuggling operations for the Australian Federal Police, he was given $250,000 of taxpayers' money and a visa to come to Australia.

Giving evidence against alleged people-smuggler Hadi Ahmadi in a Perth court yesterday, Mr Sultani said it was revenge that drove him to turn against the smugglers.

"In August 2000 me and my friends went to the embassy. We suggested we could help them arrest people-smugglers," he said.

"It was kind of revenge -- he took our money and never cared about us."

Mr Sultani was talking about Sayeed Omeid, an accomplice of Ahmed Olong, whom the prosecution described as the former No 1 people-smuggler in Indonesia.

Mr Sultani said he passed on information about the movement of boats, passengers and phone numbers of smugglers to an embassy official called Mr Lee. When he did this, he and the accused man, Mr Ahmadi, were working for Mr Omeid by helping to arrange the movement of asylum-seekers to boats that were leaving for Australia.

Mr Sultani said he had received $250,000 from Australian officials in 2005 after giving evidence at another people-smuggling trial, that of Hassan Ayoub in Perth's District Court a year earlier.

When asked by Mr Ahmadi's lawyer, Jonathan Davies, yesterday if he was expecting a bigger reward if Mr Ahmadi were convicted, Mr Sultani said "No."

He told the court that in 2002 the Australian Federal Police had helped him come to Australia on a justice visa and for the next three years the agency had paid for his accommodation.

Mr Sultani said that from 2002 to 2005 he had remained in contact with the AFP, giving them information he had heard from Mr Ahmadi, who was then still in Indonesia.

Mr Sultani said he had left Iraq for Jordan in 1996, in fear of the Iraqi secret police, because he had deserted from the army, where he served as a lieutenant in the tank regiment.

He said he had then made his way to Malaysia and Indonesia in the hope of coming to Australia via boat as an asylum-seeker.

Mr Ahmadi has pleaded not guilty to 21 people-smuggling charges brought after he was extradited from Indonesia.

The trial continues.


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