Letter to the Editor
12 January 2003
Police are pursuing people smugglers
Some misinformation and misunderstanding surrounds the case of Abu Quessay, who is wanted in Australia for people smuggling (Sunday Telegraph, 5/1).
The Australian Federal Police have been pursuing Quessay for some time, and currently have four warrants issued for his arrest, one of which relates to his alleged involvement in organising SIEV X.
AFP investigations over the past 15 months have resulted in 76 charges against Quessay, involving four illegal vessels he is alleged to have organised.
The AFP has received legal advice that as the exact location where SIEVX sank is unknown, other charges such as homicide or manslaughter could not be laid, because the offence must be able to be proved beyond reasonable doubt to have occurred within Australian jurisdiction.
The stream of deliberate misinformation about the quest for Quessay, being promoted in the media by a vocal minority, does not serve Australia's national interest, the interests of those who so tragically died, or the interest of a fair and legal process.
The AFP is determined to preserve the integrity of the processes required to deal with Quessay within the Australian judicial framework. The worst outcome would be that he never faces justice, and so many lives would have been lost in vain. It is for this reason alone that evidentiary matters cannot be debated in the public forum.
Last, the AFP does not have evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that SIEV X was sabotaged. Those who continue to pursue conspiracy theories on the issue do so without any regard for the facts or due process.