Australian Federal Police bust alleged people smuggler in joint operation with Indonesia

May 12, 2013 5:19PM

INDONESIAN authorities have arrested an alleged people smuggler who is believed to have organised a boat that sank on the way to Australia last year, killing as many as 90 people.

The development came as police in Indonesia also confirmed that an asylum-seeker boat had been discovered in Bali's Benoa Harbour, as it was preparing to depart for Australia.

It is believed that more than 80 suspected asylum seekers were aboard the vessel.

Police in Australia and Indonesia today confirmed the arrest of the people smuggler, which was made as part of a joint operation.

Indonesia's anti-people smuggling taskforce chief, Budi Santoso, told AAP that the arrest was made on Friday at an apartment in North Jakarta.

The arrest of the man, identified as ''Bilu'', but who is also known by the aliases Hasan Bilu and Jawed Muhmud, is considered a significant breakthrough in anti-people smuggling efforts.

Budi said ''Bilu'' was expected to face people smuggling charges in Indonesia, which carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

A spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed the operation, while also congratulating Indonesian authorities for the arrest.

''The AFP continues to work closely with Indonesian authorities to identify and prevent the organisation and facilitation of people smuggling, ''the spokesperson said.

''This arrest demonstrates the successful close cooperation between Australia and international law enforcement and the joint commitment to the fight against people smuggling.

''It is not appropriate for the AFP to comment further on an Indonesian investigation.''

''Bilu'' is believed to have admitted to police he arranged the passage of four asylum-seeker boats, but is suspected of involvement in more people-smuggling ventures.

He had been identified by another man who was jailed in Indonesia earlier this year for his part in helping to send a number of asylum-seeker boats to Australia, including the one which sunk causing the death of 90 people.

Dawood Amiri pleaded guilty to arranging the unstable vessel which capsized in the Sunda Strait [sic] on June 21 last year.

Of the 200 passengers on board, 110 survived.

Amiri was sentenced in February to six years in jail.


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