Media Release
Minister for Justice and Customs
Senator for Western Australia

25 March 2004

Minister welcomes arrest of alleged people smuggler

The arrest of alleged people smuggler Mehmet Seriban by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) at Sydney Airport this morning was another victory in Australia's ongoing battle against people smuggling, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today.

Seriban, a 39-year old Turkish national, was arrested by AFP officers upon his arrival at Kingsford Smith Airport at 7am today following an extensive and long-running probe by the AFP and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMIA).

"Seriban has been of interest to the joint AFP/DIMIA people smuggling taskforce for several years, and has been charged this morning with 11 charges under the Immigration Act in relation to his alleged role in bringing a group of unlawful non-citizens to Australia four years ago," Senator Ellison said.

"The AFP will allege that he was the principal organiser behind a people-smuggling operation which included the discovery of a fishing vessel, the Gnowangerup, at Ashmore Reef on 17 February 2000 with 14 Turkish nationals on board.

"Seriban was deported by Indonesian immigration authorities yesterday as a result of visa violations, and will appear in Waverley Magistrate's Court later today where authorities will apply for his extradition to Northern Territory.

"Following his arrest, Seriban was taken to Mascot Police Centre where he was formally charged with one charge under Section 232A of the Migration Act 1958 and ten charges under Section 233(1)(a) of the Migration Act 1958."

"This is an excellent result of a major joint investigation by the AFP and DIMIA and vindicates again the hard work of the AFP's international network, including close consultation between AFP and Indonesian authorities in relation to Seriban's detainment.

"Seriban's arrest is further proof that the Australian Government will take all steps possible to ensure the criminals behind the abhorrent practice of people-smuggling will be brought to justice, wherever they are in the world."

"The Government will relentlessly pursue people smugglers and bring them to justice either in Australia or in the countries where these offences are facilitated," Senator Ellison said.

Media Inquiries: Simon Troeth (02) 6277 7260/(0439) 300 335


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