Accused people-smuggler beats extradition bid from New Zealand

February 11, 2013 5:20PM

NEW Zealand's High Court has blocked the extradition to Australia of an Iraqi-born man to face charges relating to the Siev X asylum-seeker tragedy, in which 353 died.

Maythem Radhi, 31, who moved to New Zealand from Indonesia as a refugee in 2009, is accused of being one of three men responsible for trying to smuggle hundreds of asylum seekers aboard the Siev X which sank south of Indonesia en route to Christmas Island in October 2001.

The sinking resulted in the death of 146 children, 142 women and 65 men, while another 45 were rescued by Indonesian fishermen after staying alive for 20 hours.

Mr Radhi appealed a district court decision to extradite him to Australia.

Today the High Court released its ruling in the case, reversing the decision to extradite him.

Justice Edwin Wylie said Mr Radhi could not be extradited to Australia because if his alleged offence had occurred within New Zealand jurisdiction, it would not have been punishable by more than a year's imprisonment.

At the time of the Siev X sinking, the maximum New Zealand penalty for people-smuggling was three months' prison, or a $NZ5000 fine for each person smuggled.

“Mr Radhi is therefore not eligible for surrender in relation to the offence for which extradition is sought because he is not an extraditable person pursuant to the provisions of the Extradition Act 1999,” the judgment said.

Justice Wylie set aside the warrant for Mr Radhi's detention and discharged him.

Mr Radhi, who lives in South Auckland, faces one charge under the Immigration Act in Australia which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail.

He arrived in New Zealand as a refugee in March 2009 from Indonesia where he was assessed by Immigration New Zealand staff.

Details about Mr Radhi's immediate family have been suppressed.



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