Case uncovers more about people smuggling trade

George Roberts reported this story on Thursday, February 21, 2013 08:22:00

SALLY SARA: An Indonesian court has heard that a convicted people smuggler, involved in a deadly boat voyage, had links to four men in Australia.

Dawood Amiri, or Irfan, has been sentenced to six years prison for organising four asylum seeker boats, including one which sank in June last year killing 90 people.

The kingpin of the smuggling syndicate hasn't been found.

Outlining how Irfan organized the boat trips, the judges named his contacts in Australia.

Indonesian Police also accuse an Afghan-born Australian of being part of the operation.

From Jakarta here's correspondent George Roberts.

(Sounds from outside courtroom)

GEORGE ROBERTS: Holding back the media scrum, security guards at the East Jakarta court ushered Dawood Amiri from the prison van to the courtroom.

The 19 year old Afghan man known as Irfan sat facing the judges. At the back of the court his 31 year old wife Sri Hartati bit her thumb as the judges summarised the case.

Here's chief judge Mariana:

JUDGE MARIANA (translated): We decide first that the defendant Dawood Amiri also known as Irfan is proven legally and beyond doubt guilty of being a foreigner living in Indonesia without legal travelling and immigration documents and guilty of smuggling people.

GEORGE ROBERTS: One of the four boats Irfan admitted to organising sank north of Christmas Island last June. Of the 204 asylum seekers on board, 90 died.

Prosecutors asked for a seven year jail term and a fine of 750 million rupiah, or about $75,000.

Justice Mariana again:

JUDGE MARIANA (translated): Secondly, we punish the defendant with six years in jail and a fine of 750 million rupiah.

GEORGE ROBERTS: And so (sound of a gavel knocking) Irfan was led away to the holding cell.

What the case uncovered is more about the people smuggling network Irfan worked for. The judges described how Irfan was recruited as a UN recognised refugee while himself attempting to get to Australia.

An alleged Afghan-born but Indonesia-based syndicate boss called Jared Muhmoud was identified but hasn't been caught.

The judges found the network had connections stretching from the Middle East to Australia. One judge mentioned four men living in Australia that Irfan was contact with. He named the men but for legal reasons the ABC can't.

Meanwhile an Afghan-born Australian man called Ali Kasim was also arrested in Indonesia, and is awaiting trial accused of being part of the same syndicate.

After his verdict, Irfan sat in a holding cell.

IRFAN: I don't want to talk about anything.

GEORGE ROBERTS: In the busy public area, his wife Sri Hartati said the verdict was unfair.

SRI HARTATI (translated): I heard the story that his role was only gathering the people, the passengers. Given that's a small role I think the verdict is too heavy. It should have been less than that.

GEORGE ROBERTS: She says she's also sad about the 90 people who died en route to Christmas Island.

SRI HARTATI (translated): As a human being, well I also feel sad and concerned. I feel pity towards those people who were in the accident. Yes he was involved but I only knew after he was arrested.

GEORGE ROBERTS: Irfan has a week to consider filing an appeal.

This is George Roberts in Jakarta, reporting for AM.


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