'Moral duty' swayed smuggler

Nicolas Perpitch
June 04, 2010 12:00AM

A KEY Indonesian people-smuggler claims he turned informant for the Australian Federal Police and revealed the inner workings of a major trafficking network because it was his moral duty to turn his life around.

But he also admitted he had cut a deal with the AFP which led to a significant reduction in his Australian prison sentence and his release after the minimum 2 1/2-year period.

The smuggler, whose name and identity was suppressed by the West Australian District Court, had also agreed as a condition of parole to voluntarily return to Australia and give evidence in the trial of alleged former colleague, Hadi Ahmadi.

Mr Ahmadi, 34, is charged with bringing 911 asylum-seekers to Christmas Island on four separate boats in 2001.

The court yesterday also heard further evidence from Waleed Sultani, a former Iraqi soldier who had worked in the same smuggling network while acting as a double agent for the AFP. He received $250,000, Australian citizenship and indemnity from prosecution in return for the information. He said he had acted out of revenge against the people-smugglers who had taken his money but had failed to bring him to Australia. He described Mr Ahmadi as a "middle man".

The smuggler told the court he was giving evidence against Mr Ahmadi because "it's a moral call I have to settle".

"I thought I had to solve this problem my own way, including to give contributions, such as coming whenever needed for the Australian government and the people of Australia," he said.

But he also defended people-smuggling as a humanitarian endeavour and a commercial business which was "beneficial to everyone".

He described Mr Ahmadi as one of the people responsible for keeping track of the numbers of asylum-seekers in Jakarta and getting them on to boats headed for Australia. He explained how Indonesian authorities would be paid off and asylum-seekers could walk the streets of Jakarta freely with no fear of deportation as long as they kept out of trouble.

The asylum-seekers were kept in the mountain tourist town of Bogor for weeks or months until taken to beaches near Jakarta for embarkation.

The trial continues.


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