Indonesian soldier jailed for people smuggling

By Indonesia correspondent George Roberts
Updated Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:02pm AEST

Photo: Sergeant Ilmun Abdul Said (C) has admitted to sending seven boats to Australia since 2010. (AAP: Karlis Salna)

A member of the Indonesian military has been sentenced to six years in prison over a people smuggling operation that saw more than 200 people die on route to Australia.

Ilmun Abdul Said has admitted to sending seven boats to Australia since 2010.

The last one sank off the coast of East Java, just before Christmas last year.

It was carrying more than twice the number of people it was designed for when it capsized in rough seas.

More than 200 people drowned in the tragedy.

A military court in East Java has sentenced Ilmun to six years in prison, expelled him from the military and fined him more than $50,000.

Ilmun says he was acting on orders from a higher ranking soldier and he has vowed to appeal against the sentence.

He is the first soldier to be charged under Indonesia's new people smuggling laws.

Ilmun's testimony provided some insight into how the boat trips are organised.

He outlined how the operation works, how they put asylum seekers on buses from Jakarta and then took them on the long journey down to the coast.

He said they would use a number of different beaches along the East Java coast to launch the boats so they were not using the same beach each time in order not to get caught by authorities.

He also outlined the money trail, how they took care of the cash, how they got the local fisherman involved, saying they were going to take tourists to the nearby resort island of Bali then once the people were on board it turned out they were obviously trying to get to Australia.

Ilmun said he had a couple of civilians that he recruited, as well as four other Indonesian soldiers who were also up on people smuggling charges.

Four other Indonesian soldiers who were recruited by Ilmun to help organise the boat trips are yet to hear their fate.

They are due to be sentenced next month.


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