Alleged SIEV X boat smuggler arrested in NZ
The West Australian
13 August 2011
One of the people smugglers who allegedly organised the infamous SIEV X voyage in 2001 in which 350 asylum seekers died has been tracked down in New Zealand and could soon face charges in Australia.
Iraq-born Maythem Kamil Radhi was arrested in New Zealand late last month and is now fighting extradition to Australia where he could be jailed for up to 20 years if found guilty of people smuggling.
Mr Radhi is the last of the three alleged organisers of the SIEV X voyage to be found by authorities and his jailing would bookend one of the most horrific sagas of the Howard government's Pacific solution.
SIEV X was a small and overcrowded refugee boat that sank off Indonesia as it made its way to Christmas Island on October 19, 2001, taking 353 people to their deaths.
Indonesian fishermen rescued 41 survivors 20 hours later.
The doomed vessel carried many women and children - a situation the then Labor opposition claimed was a product of the Howard government's regime of temporary protection visas that removed family reunion rights for refugees in Australia.
The SIEV X tragedy was also the subject of many theories and inquiries about whether the Australian Government had been tracking the boat before it sank and whether authorities could have done anything to stop the voyage or mount a rescue.
Two other men, Abu Quassey and Khaleed Daoed, have been sentenced for their role in organising the SIEV X voyage.
Quassey was jailed in Egypt and Daoed is serving time in a Queensland prison.
It is understood the 34-year-old Mr Radhi was himself a refugee and had been living in Indonesia until he was recently resettled in New Zealand.
It is believed the Australian Federal Police had been waiting for the right time to pick him up.
Extraditions from Indonesia are notoriously difficult.
A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed Mr Radhi had been arrested on July 28 in response to an extradition request from Australia.
He has been given bail under strict conditions and is likely to reappear later this month.