Pursuit of people smuggler to go onBy Josh Gordon
December 30, 2002
The Federal Government will keep pursuing the people smuggler behind the ill-fated vessel, known as SIEV X, which sank last year killing 353 asylum seekers.
Egyptian Abu Quassey will be freed from an Indonesian jail on Wednesday. But Justice Minister Chris Ellison said: "We will not let up the hunt for this man. His life will not be a peaceful one."
The Australian Federal Police has issued four warrants for the arrest of Quassey, but has failed to secure an agreement with Indonesian authorities.
Senator Ellison conceded there was little the government could do to extradite Abu Quassey to Australia because Indonesia does not yet have laws against people smuggling and it is unclear where the vessel sank, ruling out homicide charges.
But he promised Australian authorities would continue to pursue Quassey unrelentingly in the same way bankrupt businessman Christopher Skase had been pursued.
Democrats leader Andrew Bartlett said this failure added weight to the "conspiratorial argument" that authorities were worried about what Quassey might reveal about Australia's role in the SIEV X tragedy.
Senator Ellison "totally rejected" such claims. He said the government had options to bring him to justice but they could not be revealed.
"We still have some options which depend on what Abu Quassey does when he gets out. We are not going to signal our shots there, but I can tell you there is a red alert for him on Interpol," he said.