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The vast number of persons charged with people smuggling offences in Australia involve the captains and crew who are found on the ‘suspected illegal entry vessels’ (SIEVs) when they arrive in Australian waters.  Despite concerted efforts to identify and investigate the persons organising these ventures, Australian law enforcement agencies have very rarely been able to arrest, charge, convict and, if necessary, extradite migrant smugglers who are not travelling on the boats themselves, but who act as directors and organisers of such vessels.  According to statistics provided by the Attorney-General’s Department, between September 1, 2008 and February 22, 2012 there were 228 convictions of maritime people smuggling crew but just five convictions of people smuggling organisers.[1]  On June 5, 2012, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that since 2008, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have arrested 544 alleged crewmembers of which 245 have been convicted.  Over the same period, only fourteen organisers were arrested and only five of them have been convicted.[2] 

What follows is a short summary of the facts and profiles of some of the key prosecutions involving persons accused of organising migrant smuggling ventures to Australia.  The information presented here is based exclusively on open-source material, mostly official case reports.  All of the cases involve persons involved in maritime migrant smuggling.  There are, to this date, no known cases involving high-profile organisers of migrant smuggling by air to Australia.

Mr Ali al Abassi, also known as Abu Khalid and Captain Emad, is an Iraqi refugee who came to Australia in 2010 and allegedly set up a migrant smuggling ring that operated out of Canberra.  His case first emerged in June 2012 following an investigation by the ABC television program Four Corners.[1]  Mr al Abassi has been described as a ‘powerful smuggler’ at the top of a smuggling network operating in Malaysia and Indonesia.  It was reported that for most of his life, Mr al Abassi lived in Kuala Lumpur where he operated a number of perfume shops.  He also previously worked as captain on a ship moving freight around Asia.[2]

According to ABC reports, Mr al Abassi met with know migrant smuggler Mr Abu Ali al Kuwaiti and a number of other Iraqi organisers in Jakarta to devise a plan whereby a number of agents and smugglers would be sent on one boat to Australia posing as genuine asylum seekers.  Mr al Abassi’s boat was intercepted on January 13, 2010 and he was subsequently transferred to Christmas Island where he was held in immigration detention.  After three months he was granted a protection visa despite using a false name.  He moved to Canberra and was joined by his wife, their three adult children and their dependents.  The ABC Four Corners program obtained evidence suggesting that after settling in Canberra Mr al Abassi continued to organise for asylum-seekers to travel to Australia.[3]

Mr al Abassi left Australia the day after the Four Corners program was broadcast.  It was revealed that he had been the focus of a long-running investigation by the AFP, and while police knew he was leaving the country, they reportedly did not have enough evidence to stop his departuer.[4]  In August 2012, the Minister for Immigration cancelled Mr al Abassi’s protection visa.[5]  It was reported in October 2012 that his family, who had remained in Australia after he fled, had also been issued with a notice of the government’s intention to cancel their protection visas.[6]

[1]   ‘People smugglers set up business in Australia’, ABC News (online), 8 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-04/powerful-people-smugglers-caught-living-in-australia/4050506>.
[2]   ‘People smugglers set up business in Australia’, ABC News (online), 8 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-04/powerful-people-smugglers-caught-living-in-australia/4050506>.
[3]   ‘People smugglers set up business in Australia’, ABC News (online), 8 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-04/powerful-people-smugglers-caught-living-in-australia/4050506>.
[4]   ‘Simon Cullen, ‘AFP says Captain Emad has fled the country’, ABC News (online), 7 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-07/afp-says-captain-emad-has-fled-the-country/4058460>.
[5]   ‘Captain Emad’s protection visa cancelled’, ABC News (online), 3 August 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-03/government-cancels-captain-emad27s-protection-visa/4175488>.
[6]   Lauren Wilson, ‘Emad family in visa plea’, The Australian, 16 October 2012, 4.

The case of Mr Hadi Ahmadi is one of the highest profile prosecutions of migrant smuggling in Australia.  Mr Ahmadi was born in Iraq in 1975 and, at the age of 10, fled to Indonesia to escape persecution under the regime of President Sadam Hussein.  During his time in Indonesia Mr Ahmadi made two unsuccessful attempts to move to Australia with the help of local migrant smugglers.  The organiser behind Mr Ahmadi’s second failed attempt, Mr Sayed Omeid, has been named as one of Australia’s top-level smugglers.[1]

Between January and September 2001, Mr Ahmadi worked closely with Mr Omeid in facilitating the departure of several vessels carrying asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia.  Mr Ahmadi was implicated in the arrival of the following four boats, carrying a total of 911 asylum seekers to Australia, including SIEV Flinders, which was detected near Christmas Island on March 25, 2001 carrying 196 passengers; SIEV Nullaware, which was apprehended near Christmas Island on April 22, 2001 carrying 198 passengers; SIEV Yambuk, which was apprehended near Christmas Island on August 4, 2001 carrying 147 passenhers; and SIEV Conara, which was apprehended near Christmas Island on August 22, 2001, carrying 364 passengers.

Indonesian and Australian authorities only became aware of Mr Ahmadi’s involvement in migrant smuggling when, several years later, one of his former co-workers turned informant, Mr Waleed, reported about Mr Ahmadi’s activities.  Mr Ahmadi was deported by Indonesian authorities to Iraq in 2007 but returned in 2008 and was arrested by officials at Jakarta airport.  Mr Ahmadi became the first person to be extradited to Australia for migrant smuggling charges when Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono approved an extradition request by Australian authorities on April 20, 2009.

On February 4, 2010, Hadi Ahmadi was indicted for his involvement in the arrival of SIEVs Flinders, Nullaware, Yambuk, and Conara. The main charges against him involved offences under former s 232A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) (now s 233C), Australia’s principal migrant smuggling offence.  On August 11, 2010, after three and a half days of deliberation, the jury found Mr Ahmadi guilty of two counts of the offence of people smuggling in relation to the Conara and the Flinders.  The jury found Mr Ahmadi not guilty and could not reach a verdict in respect of the charges in relation to the other two vessels. Mr Ahmadi was sentenced to 7½  imprisonment, with a non-parole period of four years imprisonment.[2]

In June 2011, Mr Ahmadi’s application for leave to appeal against conviction was heard in the Western Australian Supreme Court.  The points Mr Ahmadi argued on appeal were that the trial judge erred in not leaving the defence of necessity open to the jury, and the prosecution’s frequent interruptions during the defence’s closing address amounted to a miscarriage of justice.[3]  Mr Ahamdi’s appeal was, however, dismissed.  He was released from gaol in June 2012 and then placed in the Perth Immigration Detention Centre.  In August 2012, he announced that he would abandon his application for asylum in Australia and, despite fears for his personal safety, agreed to be returned to Iran.[4]

For a full case analysis see: Andreas Schloenhardt & Linley Ezzy, ‘Hadi Ahmadi and the Myth of the "People Smugglers’ Business Model"’ (2012) 38(3) Monash Law Review

[1]   Rory Callinan, Emmy Zumaidar, ‘People-smuggler on loose despite sentence’, The Australian (online), 20 July 2011 <http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/people-smuggler-on-loose-despite-sentence/story-fn59niix-1226097880013>.
[2]   Transcript of Proceedings, R v Ahmadi (District Court of Western Australia, 12/2010, Stavrianou DCJ, 24 September 2010) 3784.
[3]   Ahmadi v The Queen (2011) 254 FLR 174 [31]-[32].
[4]   Debbie Guest, ‘Smuggler drops bid to stay’, The Australian,17 August 2012, 4.

The case against Mr Keis Abd Rahim Asfoor was that he was a primary organiser of ten boats that carried 1,351 unlawful non-citizens to Australia from Indonesia between August 1999 and September 2001.  The Crown alleged that he was directly involved in arranging boats, crews and provisions to take the passengers to Australia, and that he assisted passengers to travel through Indonesia to the departure points.  In his defence, Mr Asfoor asserted that he was only a minor assistant.[1]

Mr Asfoor had himself unsuccessfully attempted to come to Australia.  In 1996 he applied for entry to Australia as a refugee, but two years later no decision had been made.  In desperation, he attempted to enter Australia by obtaining a false passport, which enabled him to board a flight to Australia.  On arrival he made no attempt to use the passport, and after giving the Australian authorities a truthful account of his situation, he was returned to Indonesia.  Mr Asfoor then attempted to enter Australia again with his brother on a small boat with inadequate provisions. This voyage almost ended in disaster and was abandoned.[2]  At his first trial in 2003 Mr Asfoor was convicted of 12 offences, but after a re-trial in 2006,[3] he was convicted of only seven charges. The trial judge of the District Court of Western Australia found that he had smuggled people to Australia purely for profit.

Mr Asfoor was released by Australian authorities and deported from Australia in 2008.  It was reported in September 2012 that he had since returned in a boat that reached Christmas Island.  He was detained at the Perth Immigration Detention Centre while the Department of Immigration and Citizenship assessed his claim for a permanent protection visa.  Mr Asfoor is stateless and has been recognised as a genuine refugee by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  However, because of his convictions as a people-smuggler, it is unlikely that Mr Asfoor will be granted a visa by the Minister for Immigration.[4]  It is not known whether Mr Asfoor was ultimately granted a visa or deported.

[1]   Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, ‘Annual Report 2005-2006 (Annual Report, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, 10 October 2006) 27.
[2]   Asfoor v R [2005] WASCA 126.
[3]   A re-trial was ordered in 2005 following a successful appeal to the Western Australia Supreme Court of Appeal. See further, Asfoor v The Queen [2005] WASCA 126.
[4]   Paige Taylor, ‘People-smuggler returns to make third asylum bid’, The Australian, 15 September 2012, 2.

The case of Messrs Rahmatullah and Qambar Ali Bostan involves a group of 68 Afghan nationals who had been gathered for the purpose of taking them to Australia illegally.  The group was apprehended in West Java, Indonesia on April 16, 2009.[1]  Qambar Ali Bostan and his family, themselves smuggled migrants, arrived from Afghanistan in Australia by boat in 1999.  The family was granted protection visas in 2001 and became Australian citizens in 2002.  The father and son duo became involved in migrant smuggling in 2009 when Qambar Ali Bostan travelled to Indonesia, Pakistan, and Malaysia.[2] 

A Melbourne court later heard that some of Afghans had paid up to USD 10,000 for their (failed) journey, believing they would be able to work as fruit pickers in northern Victoria.[3]  Reports later suggested that Mr Rahmatullah Bostan obtained AUD 40,000 or more from his father who transferred the money from Indonesia.[4]  Under instructions from his father, he dispersed the money through transfers back to Indonesia.[5]  Following the apprehension of the group of Afghans in Indonesia, the AFP intercepted telephone calls between Mr Rahmatullah Bostan, who was in Australia at the time, and members of the group.  Both father and son were arrested by the Australian Federal Police in Shepparton, Victoria on May 19, 2009 and charged with people smuggling under ss 73.1 and 73.3 of the Criminal Code (Cth).  Mr Rahmatullah Bostan was also charged with dealing in proceeds of crime totalling at least AUD 50,000 and with drug offences.[6]

Mr Qambar Ali Bostan was found dead in a lake on October 17, 2009.  His family later suggested that he had been blackmailed into organising migrant smuggling operations and had ended his life because of the charges laid against him earlier that year.[7]  The coroner investigated the death but without a public inquest.

On September 14, 2010 Mr Rahmatullah, Bostan, then aged 23, plead guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to receiving AUD 52,000 in proceeds of crime and to charges relating to the possession of illicit drugs.  Charges relating to people smuggling were dropped at this point as the Crown conceded that, unlike his father, Rahmatullah had no knowledge of the people en route to Australia and had never travelled to Indonesia.[8] 

Click here for a full report on this case [pdf].

[1]   Peter Gregory & Darren Linton, ‘Man, 21, charged with people-smuggling plot’ (20 May 2009) The Age (Melbourne) 3.
[2]   ‘Paul Maley, ‘Almost all new-wave boatpeople genuine’ (21 May 2009) The Australian 2; ‘VIC: Man admits part in people smuggling’ (14 Sep 2010) Australian Associated Press.
[3]   Adrian Lowe, ‘People-smuggling scheme revealed to court’ (15 Sep 2010) The Age (Melbourne) 5.
[4]   Melissa Iaria, ‘VIC: Charges withdrawn after accused people smuggler’s death’ (1 Dec 2009) Australian Associated Press.
[5]   ‘VIC: Man admits part in people smuggling’ (14 Sep 2010) Australian Associated Press; ‘Asylum seeker “dreamt” of bringing people to country’ (16 Sep 2010) NewsMail.
[6]   Peter Gregory & Darren Linton, ‘Man, 21, charged with people-smuggling plot’ (20 May 2009) The Age (Melbourne) 3; ‘Court told of alleged smuggler’s $40k deposit’ (20 May 2009) ABC News
[7]   Suspect’s body found’ (20 Oct 2009) Herald Sun (Melbourne) 10; Drill, ‘Squad to curb influx’ (22 Nov 2009) Herald Sun (Melbourne).
[8]   ‘VIC: Man admits part in people smuggling’ (14 Sep 2010) Australian Associated Press.

Mr Khaleed Shnayf Daoed was convicted in Australia in June 2005 for his involvement in the organising of the SIEV X (a name assigned by Australian authorities) in October 2001.  This vessel left Indonesia carrying more than 300 smuggled migrants and capsized en route to Australia, thus killing most of the passengers on board.[1]  Like several other migrant smugglers, Mr Daoed had arrived in Indonesia as a refugee after leaving Iraq for fear of persecution. 

Mr Daoed was charged with two counts of contravening s 232A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) and later convicted of one count and acquitted of the other.  It was alleged that Mr Daoed played a major role in the organising of boats by being involved ‘in all phases of a people smuggling scheme from the time when passengers were recruited to their embarkation for Australia.’  It was found that he had attended ‘promotional’ meetings with prospective passengers, negotiated prices and terms of travel, received payment, kept records of passengers and their payments, issued instructions to passengers, and assisted with transfers between accommodation, hotels, and the vessel.[2]

On July 14, 2005, Mr Daoed was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 4½ years.  In determining this sentence, Justice McMurdo noted that SIEV X was so overcrowded with passengers when the boat left Indonesia that once a passenger had been brought on board he or she could not move about.  These dangers must have been obvious to Mr Daoed.  His Honour also noted that Mr Daoed, at least in part, was motivated by profit rather than by altruistic intentions.[3]

[1]   See further, Senate Committee for an inquiry into a certain maritime incident, Parliament of Australia, A Certain Maritime Incident (2002) 195–233.
[2]   R v Daoed [2005] QCA 459 [7].
[3]   R v Daoed [2005] QCA 459 [9].

Mr Ali Khorram Heydarkhani was born in Iran, and later migrated to Australia, presumably with the assistance of migrant smugglers.  He was granted an offshore protection visa in Australia in 2003 before moving to Indonesia in 2009 where he became involved in migrant smuggling.[1]

Mr Heydarkhani was convicted in Australia in October 2012 for his involvement in organising five vessels to bring smuggled migrants to Australia, including SIEV 221 which smashed into Christmas Island on December 15, 2010, killing 50 people.  In the days following this incident, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) sent a request to the Indonesian National Police to put Mr Heydarkhani under surveillance.  He was already known to Australian and Indonesian authorities for his suspected involvement in migrant smuggling, although he operated under various names.  Mr Heydarkhani was arrested on January 25, 2011 by Indonesian authorities, deported to Australia, and arrested by the AFP at Sydney airport on May 12, 2011.[2]

Mr Heydarkhani told the AFP that he worked for Abu Ali al-Kuwaiti, a convicted migrant smuggler, who he thought was an employee of UNHCR helping people to ‘resettle in Europe’.  He claimed to have no knowledge that people were being smuggled to Australia and that it was Mr al-Kuwaiti who had organised SIEV 221.  Prosecutors later alleged that Mr Heydarkhani helped arrange flights for asylum seekers from Iraq and Iran, provided them with accommodation in Jakarta, and exchanged money for the boat journey.[3]

Mr Heydarkhani was charged with 14 counts of aggravated people smuggling.  He plead guilty to four counts in relation to arranging five boats that arrived from Indonesia in Australia between June 2010 and January 2011.  This includes two counts of aggravated people smuggling where his conduct recklessly placed the lives of passengers at risk.[4]  These counts related to SIEV 221 and SIEV 226, a boat in particularly poor condition that was organised after SIEV 221 had sunk.[5]  This made Mr Heydarkhani the first person to be sentenced for aggravated people smuggling where the conduct ‘gives rise to a danger of death or serious harm’ to a passenger.  Judge Stephen Scott sentenced Mr Heydarkhani to 14 years imprisonment, noting he played an essential role in the people smuggling business, lacked concern for the safety of the passengers, lied to them, and acted primarily for financial reward.  It is estimated that he personally made AUD 10,000 from each boat, with authorities seizing AUD 37,000 from him after he was arrested.[6]
[1]   Meaghan Shaw and Jackie Dent, ‘People smuggler gets seven years’, The Age (Melbourne), 29 December  2003, 3.
[2]   Meaghan Shaw and Jackie Dent, ‘People smuggler gets seven years’, The Age (Melbourne), 29 December  2003, 3.
[3]   ‘Indonesia to deport suspected people smuggler to Egypt this week’, Australian Associated Press, 15 April 2003.
[4]   ‘Smuggler on trial over boat people deaths’, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 8 September 2003, 4.
[5]   ‘Indonesia reluctant to hand over people-smuggler to Australia’, Agence France-Press, 14 February 2003.
[6]   Sophie Morris, ‘Suspicions haunt survivor of Siev X sinking’, The Australian, 27 October 2003, 2.

Mr Ali Hassan Abdolamir Al Jenabi is an Iraqi national who, after a failed attempt to be smuggled to Europe, escaped with his family from Iraq into neighbouring Iran where the family lived in a refugee camp for some time.  After an application to obtain protection visas to migrate to Australia failed, he travelled to Malaysia and Indonesia with the assistance of migrant smugglers.  In Indonesia, he made two unsuccessful attempts to join Australia-bound migrant smuggling vessels, which had been organised by Sayeed Omeid.  Mr Al Jenabi subsequently became involved in organising several vessels himself, partly to rival Mr Abu Quassey who was operating in Indonesia at the same time, but also to raise money to bring his family from Iran to Australia, which he eventually achieved.[1]

Mr Al Jenabi was allegedly responsible for organising four migrant smuggling vessels that brought a total of 370 asylum seekers, mostly Iraqi nationals, to Australia in 2000 and 2001.  These include SIEVs Stonyville (arrived at Ashmore Reef on June 1, 2000 carrying 36 passengers); Outrim (arrived at Ashmore Reef on May 4, 2001, carrying 65 passengers); Bacala (arrived at Ashmore Reef on August 20, 2001, carrying 225 passengers); and Fruitgrove (arrived at Ashmore Reef on October 15, 2000 carrying 33 passengers).[2]

Following his extradition from Indonesia to Australia, Mr Al Jenabi was charged with four counts of people smuggling under s 232A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).  He pleaded guilty to, and was later convicted for, two counts.  Although Mr Al Jenabi denied his role as a principal organiser, it was found that he was heavily involved in the offending and had exercised a great deal of control over each operation.  He was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 4 years.[3]

Mr Al Jenabi was released from prison on June 15, 2006 and transferred into immigration detention pending a decision on his application for a protection visa.  Following a number of legal challenges, Mr Al Jenabi had his application rejected and was granted a bridging visa.  As of June 30, 2012 Mr Al Jenabi still remains in Australia on this visa but could be deported at any time.[4]  The Australian Human Rights Commission released a report in 2011 that found that the Commonwealth had breached Mr Al Jenabi’s right not to be subject to arbitrary detention by detaining him while his application was determined and recommended payment of compensation.  The Commonwealth rejected the findings.[5]  

[1]   Transcript of Proceedings, R v Al Jenabi(Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, Mildren J, 21 September 2004).
[2]   R v Al Jenabi [2004] NTSC 44.
[3]   Transcript of Proceedings, R v Al Jenabi (Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, Mildren J, 21 September 2004).
[4]   Jose Borghino, ‘The people-smuggler as humane hero, not a villian’, The Australian (online), 30 June 2012, available at < http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/the-people-smuggler-as-humane-hero-not-a-villain/story-fn9n8gph-1226411208500>.
[5]   Mr Al Jenabi v Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Immigration and Citizenship) [2011] AusHRC 45.

Mr Abu Ali al-Kuwaiti, also known as Abdul Kadem,[1] allegedly operated a migrant smuggling network in Indonesia that organised a number of boatloads of asylum seekers to travel to Australia.  Mr al-Kuwaiti lived in Kuwait for 40 years until the invasion of Iraq in 1990, at which time he fled to Iran where he stayed until 1999.  After becoming a person of interest to Iranian intelligence authorities, he and his family travelled to Indonesia where they arranged to come to Australia by boat.

Following two previously unsuccessful attempts, Mr al-Kuwaiti, together with his pregnant wife and five children, arrived in Australia as smuggled migrants on November 1, 1999 onboard a boat with 353 passengers.  Mr al-Kuwaiti had initially paid AUD 8,500 to an Indonesian migrant smuggler in order to secure passage to Australia.  Ahmed offered to refund the money if he agreed to act as a middleman; this involved escorting passengers from the airport to hotels, negotiating and collecting fares, and translating between passengers and the organisers.  Mr al-Kuwaiti never received his AUD 8,500 back from Ahmed.

On arrival in Australia Mr al-Kuwaiti co-operated with investigating agents.  He ultimately pleaded guilty to one count of people smuggling (former s 232A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)) for his role in facilitating the arrival of the boat that he came on.  Mr al-Kuwaiti was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.  On appeal the Supreme Court of Western Australia reduced the sentence to three years’ imprisonment.  He was ordered to serve 18 months of that term and then to be released on upon him entering a recognizance to be of good behavior for a period of 18 months in the sum of AUD 5,000.[2]

Following his release in 2003, Mr al-Kuwaiti and his family were deported to Iraq.  In mid-2009, Mr al-Kuwaiti reportedly travelled to Malaysia and acquired a fake Omani passport.  He used this passport to travel to and from Indonesia a number of times, supposedly to trade in cigarettes, antiques and boats.  In 2010, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)’s Four Corners program showed a number of videos that were filmed undercover and which showed Mr al-Kuwaiti organising a boat trip to Australia.  The videos were passed on to Indonesian and Australian authorities.

Mr al-Kuwaiti was detained briefly in November 2011 but allegedly still organised a boat carrying 97 people; the boat never arrived in Australia and it was feared that all those aboard drowned.  In February 2011, Mr al-Kuwaiti was again detained at an immigration detention centre in Kalideres, West Jakarta, Indonesia.  Four Corners obtained footage of Mr al-Kuwaiti insisting that the passengers from the boat he organised were still alive and refusing to refund money paid. 

Despite the strong evidence against Mr al-Kuwaiti, he was only convicted in Indonesia for possessing a false-passport.  He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, but on appeal this was reduced to just six month.  As on June 6, 2012 a final appeal by prosecutors had been lodged before the Supreme Court in Jakarta, Indonesia.[3]

Mr al-Kuwaiti has recently been linked to, and placed at the head of, a network of Iraqi migrant smugglers operating in Indonesia and Australia.[4]  Another suspected migrant smuggler also implicated Mr al-Kuwaiti in the organisation of SIEV 221, a migrant smuggling vessel that sank at Christmas Island in December 2010, killing 50 people.[5]

[1]   Mr Al-Kuwaiti went by a number of other aliases and names: Abdul Kadem; Abdul Husain Bin Habib Kadzim; Abdul Hussein Habeeb Kadhim; Ali Hassan Khamis Al Bulushi; Abdul Hussein Kadem; Sheikh Khadim Abu Ali and Abdul Husein Habeeb Khadem.
[2]   Kadem v The Queen [2002] WASCA 133.
[3]   Matt Brown and Ake Prihantari, 'Al Kuwaiti: the man behind the boats', ABC News (online), 6 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-06/al-kuwaiti-the-smuggler-behind-the-boats/4054502>.
[4]   'People smugglers set up business in Australia', Four Corners (online), 8 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-04/powerful-people-smugglers-caught-living-in-australia/4050506>.
[5]   Nicolas Perpitch, 'People smuggler took $6.8m from five boatloads', The Australian, 6 September 2012, 2.

Mr Abraham Louhenapessy, also known as ‘Captain Bram’, is an Indonesian national who has been arrested and convicted several times in Indonesia for his role in organising migrant smuggling ventures to Australia.  It is estimated that over the ten years between 1999 and 2009 he was involved in smuggling approximately 1500 migrants to Australia.[1]  In 2001, Operation Snakehead, an investigation involving Australian and Cambodian agencies, foiled an attempt to send a boatload of 241 Pakistani and Afghan nationals to Australia.  Mr Louhenapessy was to be the captain of this the boat.  Despite being wanted by Australian authorities, he was returned to Indonesia after ‘intense lobbying by the Indonesian embassy in Phnom Penh’.[2]  In 2007, he was arrested in connection with the detection of 83 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers on a migrant smuggling vessel in international waters off Australia.  He subsequently served two years in jail in Indonesia after being convicted for ‘hiding, protecting and harbouring people known to have entered Indonesia illegally’.[3]  He was released in June 2009.[4]

In October 2009, Mr Louhenapessy captained another boat carrying 254 Tamil asylum-seekers.  The Indonesian Navy intercepted the boat, with Mr Louhenapessy still on board, following a request from then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Indonesian President.  After the boat docked in Merak, Java, the ‘asylum-seekers refused to disembark, fearing they would wait years for resettlement if their claims were processed there.’[5]  The people remained on the boat for six months until Indonesian authorities eventually moved them to an Australian-funded detention centre in Indonesia, where their claims were to be processed by UNHCR.[6]  For this incident, Mr Louhenapessy was only charged with minor offences relating to the crew of the boat not carrying proper paperwork.  In March 2010, he was given a one-year suspended sentence and was fined IDR 25 million (c AUD 3,000).[7]

[1]   Stephen Fitzpatrick, ‘“George” revealed as people-smuggler Captain Bram’, The Australian, 20 October 2009, 2.
[2]   Mark Baker, ‘Cambodian sting nets a big fish’, The Age (Melbourne), 31 August 2002, 17.
[3]   Rory Callinan and Enny Zumaidar, ‘People-smuggling captain to get his vessel back’, The Australian, 17 April 2009, 2.
[4]   Stephen Fitzpatrick, ‘“George” revealed as people-smuggler Captain Bram’, The Australian, 20 October 2009, 2.
[5]   ‘Captain Bram avoids jail’, The Australian, 25 May 2010, 5.
[6]   ‘Six month asylum seeker standoff ends’, SBS World News Headline Stories (online), 20 April 2010 <http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1239967/six-month-asylum-seeker-standoff-ends>.
[7]   Rory Callinan and Enny Zumaidar, ‘People-smuggling captain to get his vessel back’, The Australian, 17 April 2009, 2; ‘Captain Bram avoids jail’, The Australian, 25 May 2010, 5.

Mr Sayed Omeid, an Iraqi national of Kurdish background, has been labeled as a ‘key player’ in the migrant smuggling business since the early 2000s and was named at the trial of Mr Hadi Ahamdi, a convicted people smuggler.  Mr Omeid is wanted by Australian authorities for allegedly bringing 763 persons to Australia.[1]

In 2010, Mr Omeid was charged in Malaysia for possession of false passports.  Following his arrest, Australian authorities applied for Mr Omeid to be extradited.  His extradition has been delayed several times after a series of objections were filed by his lawyer.[2]  In July 2011, Mr Omeid lost an appeal to dismiss a review of a lower court’s decision to remit his extradition to the Kuala Lumpar Sessions Court.[3]  On September 7, 2012 it was reported that Mr Omeid remained in detention at an immigration office at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, pending the outcome of his court battle against the extradition.[4] 
[1]   Mr Al-Kuwaiti went by a number of other aliases and names: Abdul Kadem; Abdul Husain Bin Habib Kadzim; Abdul Hussein Habeeb Kadhim; Ali Hassan Khamis Al Bulushi; Abdul Hussein Kadem; Sheikh Khadim Abu Ali and Abdul Husein Habeeb Khadem.
[2]   Kadem v The Queen [2002] WASCA 133.
[3]   Matt Brown and Ake Prihantari, 'Al Kuwaiti: the man behind the boats', ABC News (online), 6 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-06/al-kuwaiti-the-smuggler-behind-the-boats/4054502>.
[4]   'People smugglers set up business in Australia', Four Corners (online), 8 June 2012 <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-06-04/powerful-people-smugglers-caught-living-in-australia/4050506>.

Mr Abu Quassey was the organiser of SIEV X, an overcrowded fishing boat that sank en route from Indonesia to Australia in October 2001 killing 353 smuggled migrants.[1]  He has also been implicated in organising a number of vessels in Indonesia in 2000/2001, namely SIEVs Donnybrook, Gelantipy, and Yambuk.  While Mr Quassey has not faced any charges in relation to these vessels, he was convicted in relation to his involvement in organising SIEV X.

Survivor testimony in relation to the SIEV X incident revealed that Mr Quassey was responsible for bribing several Indonesian officials who he paid to assist him in transporting and loading the passengers onto the SIEV X.  Some passengers claimed that Mr Quassey drew a gun and threatened to shoot passengers if they did not board the boat.[2]

Following the SIEV X incident, Indonesian authorities questioned Mr Quassey.  He confessed to his role in organising the voyage but denied any responsibility for the deaths.[3]  Because Indonesia had no migrant smuggling offences at the time, Indonesian prosecutors were unable to lay charges.  Mr Quassey was, however, imprisoned in Indonesia for six months in relation to visa infractions.[4]  Australian authorities worked to extradite Mr Quassey from Indonesia, but faced a number of difficulties in doing so.  Indonesia later extradited Mr Quassey to Egypt where he was prosecuted.[5]

At trial, Mr Quassey claimed he was a middleman in the operation and not its mastermind.  The prosecution argued that Mr Quassey was the main organiser, knew that the boat was unsafe, but forced people onto the boat regardless of the danger.[6]  On December 28, 2003 Mr Quassey was convicted of homicide through negligence and aiding illegal migration.  He was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.[7]  Mr Quassey successfully appealed against the severity of the sentence, which was reduced to 5 years and 3 months.[8]

[1]   Meaghan Shaw and Jackie Dent, ‘People smuggler gets seven years’, The Age (Melbourne), 29 December  2003, 3.
[2]   Meaghan Shaw and Jackie Dent, ‘People smuggler gets seven years’, The Age (Melbourne), 29 December  2003, 3.
[3]   ‘Indonesia to deport suspected people smuggler to Egypt this week’, Australian Associated Press, 15 April 2003.
[4]   ‘Smuggler on trial over boat people deaths’, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 8 September 2003, 4.
[5]   ‘Indonesia reluctant to hand over people-smuggler to Australia’, Agence France-Press, 14 February 2003.
[6]   Sophie Morris, ‘Suspicions haunt survivor of Siev X sinking’, The Australian, 27 October 2003, 2.
[7]   Meaghan Shaw and Jackie Dent, ‘People smuggler gets seven years’, The Age (Melbourne), 29 December  2003, 3.
[8]   Anne Buggins, ‘Still drowning in SIEV X horror’, The West Australian (Perth), 14 October 2006, 4.

Mr Ali Sadat, a Pakistani nationak, is believed to be the Indonesian-based leader of a migrant smuggling syndicate organising boats to Australia.[1]  It is alleged that he is responsible for the arrival of one or more boats that arrived in Australia since 2000.[2]

Mr Sadat has been connected to Mr Qambar Ali Bostan and his son, Mr Rahmatullah Bostan, who were alleged to have organised for a group of 68 Afghan nationals to come to Australia by boat.  Mr Qambarali Bostan allegedly collected AUD 400,000 from the people set to leave Indonesia for Australia and gave the money to Mr Sadat, although the boat never left.  Mr Sadat is said to have bought a house in Phuket, Thailand from that money.[3]  There was evidence that Mr Qambarali Bostan and Mr Sadat had a falling out in May 2009 after a group of Afghan migrants destined for Australia was apprehended in Indonesia.  In a text message to Mr Sadat, Mr Qambarali Bostan wrote: ‘[…] if you do not call me within a week I will find you, come out of your hide and return people's money, mother f---er, call this number and talk to me if you do not call me I will kill your wife, sister and mother in Pakistan. Why did you report the people?’[4]  When Messrs Bostan and Bostan faced court in Australia in September 2010, police wiretaps and documents were tendered identifying Mr Sadat as one of the ringleaders of the operation.[5]

In September 2012, it was reported that Mr Sadat had been arrested, along with others, as part of an Indonesian National Police operation and that he was last known to have been active in Indonesia in 2010.[6]
[1]   Meaghan Shaw and Jackie Dent, ‘People smuggler gets seven years’, The Age (Melbourne), 29 December  2003, 3.
[2]   Meaghan Shaw and Jackie Dent, ‘People smuggler gets seven years’, The Age (Melbourne), 29 December  2003, 3.
[3]   ‘Indonesia to deport suspected people smuggler to Egypt this week’, Australian Associated Press, 15 April 2003.
[4]   ‘Smuggler on trial over boat people deaths’, The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 8 September 2003, 4.
[5]   ‘Indonesia reluctant to hand over people-smuggler to Australia’, Agence France-Press, 14 February 2003.
[6]   Sophie Morris, ‘Suspicions haunt survivor of Siev X sinking’, The Australian, 27 October 2003, 2.

Kurdish born Mehmet Seriban arrived from Indonesia at Ashmore Reef illegally on August 25, 1995 on SIEV Rosella.  He was subsequently placed in immigration detention and granted a temporary protection visa on October 13, 1995.  He acquired Australian citizenship on October 5, 1998 and was issued an Australian passport two days later.  He left Australia for Turkey on October 10, 1998 and did not return until his deportation from Indonesia on March 25, 2004.[1]  Upon return to Turkey, he first became involved in organising and/or facilitating migrant smuggling operations when he advised some of his relatives who sought his assistance to come to Australia.  He suggested they travel to Indonesia and, like himself before, then move by boat to Ashmore Reef.  Mr Seriban then flew to Indonesia himself where he spent most of the following years.[2]

Mr Seriban has been accused of – and was later convicted for – a number of migrant smuggling operations between Indonesia and Australia.  He was arrested in Indonesia sometime in early 2004 and deported to Sydney where he arrived on March 25, 2004 and, on the following day, extradited Darwin to face charges.  On January 27, 2006 he was convicted for offences under ss 232A and 233(1)(a) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)in relation to the arrival five vessels that arrived at Ashmore Reef between October 30, 1998 and February 16, 2000, carrying a total of 191 passengers mostly of Turkish background (with smaller numbers of Afghani and Iraqi nationals).[3]

During his time in gaol, Mr Seriban befriended Mr Petr Petras who was kept in the same facility after his visa had been cancelled in 2004.  Mehmet Seriban was released from custody on parole on December 22, 2006.  Shortly thereafter he sought permission to travel to Turkey to visit is mother.  The permission was granted, but after a short period in Turkey, Mr Seriban travelled to Malaysia and then Indonesia where, together with Mr Petras and at least two other men, he became involved in an operation that sought to import a commercial quantity of pseudoephedrine, a precursor chemical used in the production of amphetamine-type stimulants, from Indonesia to the Northern Territory.[4]  His parole was revoked in October 2007 and Mr Seriban was extradited to Australia in January 2008.[5] 

Mr Seriban pleaded not guilty for this offence, but a two-week jury trial in Darwin in February and March 2009 returned a guilty verdict.  On March 16, 2009, he was sentenced to twelve years and three months, taking into account an additional two years and nine months he has to serve for the previous sentence.  A non-parole period of seven years and ten months was set.  He will be eligible for parole in January 2017.[6]

[1]   Anne Buggins, ‘Still drowning in SIEV X horror’, The West Australian (Perth), 14 October 2006, 4.
[2]   Robert Wainwright & Matthew Moore, ‘Accused Smuggler Arrested at Airport’ (26 Mar 2004) The Age (Melbourne) 3; Transcript of Proceedings, R v Mehmet Seriban (Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, Angel CJ, 27 Jan 2006).
[3]   DIMIA, Fact Sheet 74a. Boat Arrival Details (6 Oct 2004), formerly available at www.immi.gov.au.
[4]   R v Woods [2009] NTCCA 2 at paras [7], [8] per Riley J.
[5]   Emily Watkins, ‘Smuggler jailed over NT drug plot’ (17 Mar 2009) Northern Territory News (Darwin).
[6]   R v Woods [2009] NTCCA 2 at [14] per Riley J; see also, Emily Watkins, ‘Smuggler jailed over NT drug plot’ (17 Mar 2009) Northern Territory News (Darwin).
[1]   Attorney General’s Department, Submission No 12 to Senate Standing Committee On Legal And Constitutional Affairs, 2012, 5.
[2]   ABC, ‘People smuggling claims question role of authorities’, 7.30, 5 June 2012 (Hayden Cooper) <http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3518945.htm>.

 

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