'It's Impossible for Us to Extradite Abu Quassey'

8 Nov 2001 19:0:5 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra said today (8/11) at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights in Jakarta that it's impossible for Indonesia to extradite Abu Quassey and the illegal immigrants in Indonesia because they are foreigners. 'An extradition can only be carried out if Indonesian citizens flee abroad to Australia. Only in such a context could we request an extradition,' Yusril said.

Under international law, Indonesia is allowed to request an extradition for its citizens abroad. Indonesia once requested that the Australian government extradite Hendra Raharja, the prime suspect in the Rp3.6-billion fund corruption involving the Indonesian Bank Liquidity Support (BLBI). This request has yet to be granted by the Australian government because the Australian Supreme Court is still investigating the matter. In fact, Yusril said, Hendra Raharja's is needed in Indonesia to settle this case.

National Police chief, Gen. Surojo Bimantoro said that to extradite Abu Quassey, the prime suspect of people smuggling to Australia, along with the illegal immigrants involved in the case requires cooperation with other departments. Bimantoro said that the police have established cooperatives with the Australian Embassy in Indonesia to review whether the handling of illegal immigrants in Indonesia has been conducted in accordance with the rules in both countries (Indonesia and Australia). The National Police is also cooperating with the Directorate-General of Immigration Affairs and Australian Police to investigate Quassey's syndicate. 'As for the extradition, we still require further discussion with relavant departments,' Bimantoro said.

National Police arrested Abu Quassey or Centinkaya Nagun or Abu Kaiz (36), the prime suspect of people smuggling on Sunday (4/11) in Bandung, West Java.

National Police intelligence arrested Quassey after he had long been followed by an operation carried out by the Police together with the Australian Federal Police for quite some time. When arrested, Quassey could not produce his immigration documents. Quassey, an Egyptian citizen of Turkish descent, could only show the a foreign citizenry registration issued by the South Jakarta Immigration Office on October 30, 2000. National Police spokesperson Adj. High Comm. Prasetyo said yesterday afternoon (7/11) that Quassey is accused of having violated articles 53 and 54 of Law No. 9/1992 regarding Immigration Affairs. Article 53 of the law stipulated that foreigners who reside in or enter Indonesia illegally or have previously been deported out of the country face up to 6 years imprisonment and a Rp30 million fine. Article 54 of the Law says that those deliberately protecting, accomodating or employing illegal immigrants shall also be imposed with a 6-year imprisonment term.

Quassey is the suspected mastermind of a syndicate that has been smuggling people from Middle-Eastern countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Egypt to Australia via Indonesia as the ultimate place of transit. Quassey has been charging people between US$ 700 to US$ 1,500 for facilitating their accommodation and transportation to Australia. 'Each immigrant pays Quassey after negotiating with him and his syndicate,' Prasetyo said.

Quassey is now being questioned by the Sub Directorate of Foreigner Supervision and the Sub Directorate of International Crimes, Intelligence and Security of National Police headquarters. 'We can not reveal the results of the questioning as we are concerned that Quassey's partners in this smuggling operation will escape,' Prasetyo said.

Apart from Quassey, Lembang Police officer, Brig. Agus Safuan, was also arrested for allegedly supervising the passage of a group of illegal immigrants to Lampung using four busses from Cisarua, West Java. After arriving in Lampung, these immigrants boarded a leaky boat for the long journey to Australia. Most of them subsequently drowned in the North Java Sea. Only 44 of the 480 boat passengers survived after some Indonesian fishermen rescued them on Saturday (20/10). These survivors are now staying at Wisma Palar in Bogor, West Java.

Prasetyo declined to comment on the possible involvement of military members as well as police in this people smuggling operation. 'We're questioning Brig. Agus to find out whether he works together with other security forces, including other police officers or those from other institutions,' Prasetyo said.

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