Daoed jailed over death trip

By Leanne Edmistone
July 15, 2005

A PEOPLE smuggler who helped organise an ill-fated boat trip which led to the drowning of more than 350 asylum-seekers had been partly motivated by profit, the Supreme Court in Brisbane was told yesterday.

Judge Phil McMurdo sentenced Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 38, to nine years in jail, with a non-parole period of 4 1/2 years. But he ordered the two years and two months Daoed had spent in custody count towards the sentence.

Daoed, a former Iraqi goldsmith and father of four, was convicted by a jury in June of assisting in the proposed illegal entry of people into Australia. He was not charged for the deaths of the asylum-seekers, who were mostly Iraqis.

Daoed helped principal smuggler Abu Quassey recruit passengers for the unnamed 19.5m wooden fishing boat. He also took payments, gave instructions and provided food and equipment for the journey.

The boat left Indonesia on October 19, 2001, carrying more than 400 people. About 20 people left the overcrowded boat and sought refuge on an island.

Just hours later, 353 people drowned when the boat capsized after its engines and water pumps failed. Only 45 people were rescued by Indonesian fishing boats, after more than 20 hours in the water.

Quassey was sentenced to seven years in jail by an Egyptian court in 2003 after being found guilty of manslaughter for organising the deadly journey.

Daoed was arrested in May 2003 in Sweden, where he had permanent residency, and extradited to Australia.

Yesterday, commonwealth prosecutor Glen Rice argued Daoed had held a position of seniority, had shown no remorse or concern for the survivors, victims or their families and was aware of the risks involved in such journeys.

Mr Rice said Daoed told police the "trip was too dangerous for a family man" such as himself to attempt but had no compunction in taking money from other passengers willing to undertake the risks.

Gary Long, for Daoed, said his client "felt greatly" about the outcome of the boat journey and was concerned about his own family living in difficulty in Jordan.

Mr Long said Daoed had been working in jail as a cleaner and food distributor to send money to his family, and had earned the regard of inmates who had sent a reference to court stating their support for him. He had completed several courses.

He said Daoed, as an Iraqi refugee, had empathised with other refugees and their desire to escape to a new life and there was no evidence he benefited financially from his involvement with Quassey.

Judge McMurdo said while Daoed had not been charged with the deaths of the refugees, the fact the boat was overcrowded, seemingly to make the venture more profitable, had made his offence more serious.

He said Daoed may have believed he was helping desperate refugees achieve their goal of reaching Australia, but profit was also a substantial motivation that led him to put his own interests first.

Judge McMurdo also acknowledged Daoed had been an exemplary prisoner at Brisbane's Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, and that it would be some time before he was reunited with his family.

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