People-smuggling charges miss mark

Natalie O'Brien
June 10, 2012

ALMOST a third of all people smuggling charges laid by the Australian Federal Police in the past four years have failed, amid claims that another people smuggler who arrived in Australia claiming asylum has allegedly cut a deal with authorities.

The Commonwealth director of public prosecutions has confirmed that of the 397 individuals charged with people smuggling since 2008, 65 of them have been acquitted.

As well, 58 people-smuggling charges have been dropped because authorities were unable to prove that those charged were adults.

Since 2008, the AFP has extradited one person on people-smuggling charges from Indonesia

Refugee advocate Ian Rintoul has called for an investigation into the activities of the AFP and its relationships with people smugglers.

Last week, it was revealed on the ABC Four Corners program that a people smuggler known as Captain Emad had successfully posed as a refugee and quickly been released from detention. He secured a protection visa but, following the airing of allegations against him, he fled Australia.

The man who helped to track down Captain Emad, Hussain Nasir, also helped The Sun-Herald with its investigation after a story was published in December 2010 about the refugee boat which had gone missing with 97 passengers on board.

At the time, Mr Nasir was still in Indonesia and told The Sun-Herald he had been providing information to the AFP on the understanding that they would help him gain residency in Australia. But he claimed that the AFP had reneged on the deal and dumped him. It was reported yesterday that the AFP considered him to be unreliable.

The opposition's immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said yesterday the ''amazing adventures'' of Captain Emad highlighted the need for a tougher asylum seeker policy.

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, and Mr Morrison announced several policy changes yesterday, including a crackdown on people arriving without documentation, the reintroduction of temporary protection visas, the establishment of an integrity commissioner who would assess claims and with the right to turn back boats.

The alleged people smuggler who is believed to have cut a deal with the authorities is Haji Mohammed, who arrived on Christmas Island early this year. He has allegedly organised numerous boats to Australia, including one in October 2009 which is believed to have sunk with 108 people on board, including two of his sons.

Last week, The Sun-Herald revealed that the AFP and Customs had delayed alerting rescuers to the boat because the AFP wanted to protect the spy who had informed them the boat was in trouble. The Sun-Herald has been told that when Mr Mohammed arrived, he was spoken to by authorities and agreed to co-operate for easier treatment.


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