8.6.2005. 15:02:48

An Iraqi man has been found guilty of people smuggling by an Australian court for his role in a disastrous 2001 voyage from Indonesia in which 353 asylum seekers drowned.

Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 37, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of people smuggling, one related to the ill-fated Siev X boat and another linked to the successful arrival of 147 boat people on Australia's Christmas Island, also in 2001.

After two days of deliberations, Daoed was found guilty by a Superme Court jury in Brisbane of helping organise the trip by the Siev X, an Indonesian fishing vessel which capsized off Indonesia in October 2001, killing 353 mostly Iraqi asylum-seekers. Only 44 people survived.

Daoed was found not guilty of the second charge.

Sentencing was adjourned pending a psychological report.

People smuggling carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison under Australian law.

Daoed, 36, was extradited from Sweden in May 2003 to face the people smuggling charges.

During his trial, prosecutors said Daoed charged up to $1,000 US (A$1300) dollars for a seat on the Siev X and told passengers the route was safe.

Prosectors portrayed Daoed as a key organiser for Egyptian people-smuggler Abu Quassey, who was convicted by an Egyptian court in December 2003 of death through negligence and is serving a seven-year sentence.

Daoed has said he was not acting as a people smuggler but had other roles, including being Quassey's interpreter.

SOURCE: World News


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