People smuggler faces extradition to Aus

2013-05-08 21:01
A 30-year-old Afghan national, Sayeed Abbas Azad, behind bars of a South Jakarta court. (Ari Wu, AFP )

A 30-year-old Afghan national, Sayeed Abbas Azad, behind bars of a South Jakarta court. (Ari Wu, AFP )

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Jakarta - A prolific people smuggler wanted in Australia on a string of charges, who is suspected of arranging a boat in 2011 which sank killing 200 people on board, faced an extradition hearing in Indonesia on Wednesday.

Sayeed Abbas Azad, a 30-year-old Afghan, was jailed in Indonesia - a transit hub for asylum seekers heading to Australia - for people smuggling and harbouring foreign nationals after being arrested in 2010.

Even while in jail, he allegedly continued to arrange for boats to take asylum seekers to Australia, and is suspected of having arranged the Australia-bound voyage of a boat which sank in December 2011, killing some 200 people on board.

Authorities in Australia have been seeking Azad's extradition since 2010, and he was immediately rearrested in 2011 after he was released from prison.

A court in Perth issued a warrant for his arrest with 27 counts related to his people-smuggling activities between 2009 and 2011, prosecutor Virgaliano Nahan told the Jakarta court as extradition proceedings got under way.

"The 27 charges were not considered in the verdict handed out by the Indonesian Supreme Court," Nahan said.

"His sentence in Indonesia would have been different from Australia such that the Australian court has the right to request that he be extradited and tried in their country."

A tired-looking Abbas told reporters: "I don't want to be extradited because I have already served my punishment in Indonesia."

The next hearing is scheduled for 15 May.

The issue of people smuggling is hugely sensitive in Australia, which last year dealt with a record 17 202 asylum seekers arriving by sea.

Asylum seekers arriving in Indonesia from countries such as Afghanistan and Myanmar pay people smugglers to get a seat on rickety wooden vessels for the journey to Australia, but many have died on the perilous voyage in recent years.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  australia  |  human trafficking
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