Bodyguard accused of role in deadly boat voyage

By Indonesia correspondent George Roberts
12 September 2012

One of the Indonesian president's bodyguards has been accused of involvement in a people-smuggling operation that saw more than 200 asylum seekers drown trying to get to Australia.

In December last year, a boat carrying about 250 people sank off Prigi on the East Java coast as it attempted to get to Christmas Island.

More than 200 people drowned in the tragedy and now five Indonesian soldiers are facing a military court for their part in organising the boat.

Prosecutors have asked that the first soldier to face the hearing, Ilmun, be locked up for eight years, but the military defence team has dismissed the request.

Ilmun and his four alleged accomplices are accused of finding the boat which was then overloaded with more than twice the number of people it was designed to carry.

Ilmun has admitted to organising seven boat trips, but says he was taking orders from higher up the military chain.

He has named a member of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's security troop, a man called Amin, but also known as Amir.

The allegation takes the military's involvement in people-smuggling much higher than the low-ranking soldiers who've so far been implicated.

Ilmun could be sentenced before the end of the month.

Three civilians are also facing court over the tragedy.

The case continues.


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