|[Extracted from Senate Legal & Constitutional Legislation Committee Estimates, 31 October 2005]|
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Senator MILNE-My question relates to the SIEV X-the Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel X - and I want to ask you, particularly, Commissioner Keelty: you will recall that on 11 July 2002 you said you were unable to answer questions in relation to this matter-in relation to what information the AFP held about the departure, seaworthiness and ultimate fate of the SIEV X, the manner in which the AFP came into possession of that information and the specific actions taken, because of the future legal proceedings that were in train at that time. Are there now any further proceedings in train in relation to the SIEV X people smugglers, now that Khaled Daoed has been convicted and sentenced this year in Brisbane for SIEV X people smuggling, and Abu Quassey has been sentenced in Egypt for accidental homicide on SIEV X, and people smuggling on all four vessels that he sent to Christmas Island? So can you indicate to me whether there are any further legal proceedings in train at this particular time?
Mr Keelty-Senator, it is my understanding that there are investigations into a third person and the role that that third person may have had in the SIEV X vessel.
Senator MILNE-Can you be any more specific than that, in terms of a time frame of dealing with that matter?
Mr Keelty-No, but if there is any more detail on that that I can provide, I undertake to provide it to the committee on notice.
Senator MILNE-Thank you. As a result of the court case in Brisbane this year, it was shown that Abu Quassey had used the same land itinerary, the same bus convoy, ferry service, car ferry service, et cetera; the same police-owned hotel. Yet, when the federal police answered questions previously on this, they indicated that often information about the SIEV X appeared to contain conflicting dates regarding their departure, deliberate misinformation regarding departure locations, ambiguity, et cetera, and yet what came out of that case in Brisbane shows that it was almost identical. Doesn’t that rather conflict with what had been previously said about what the AFP knew?
Mr Keelty-I have no trouble with the previous evidence I have given before the committee about the modus operandi of the people smugglers, and there is nothing different I would add to that today.
Senator MILNE-At what point do you think the Australian Federal Police will be in a position to make a full disclosure about what information was held at the time of the departure, about the seaworthiness and the ultimate fate of the SIEV X, the manner in which the AFP came into that information, and the actions taken with that information, including who was told and when? Are we assuming that, when this third person is investigated, the AFP will be in a position to make that information available?
Mr Keelty-I am not prepared to give that undertaking, because I simply do not know how that will play out. It is an operational matter and it may lead to further investigation. So, Senator, at this point I cannot commit to a time when the matter will be disclosed. I have simply to say that the AFP has not covered up anything in relation to this. We have been as frank as we possibly can in the circumstances, given the prosecutions and the ongoing investigation, and we have got absolutely nothing to hide.
Senator MILNE-And there is nothing further you can disclose at this time without jeopardising the inquiry that you have just referred to-is that what I should take from what you are saying?
Mr Keelty-On the briefing that I have been given, that is correct, Senator.