Abu Quassey Denies Masterminding People Smuggling

Tempo Interactive
13 Feb 2002 19:32:38 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:Abu Quassey - also known as Centinkaya Nagun or Abu Kaiz--who is accused of being the mastermind behind people smuggling from the Middle East to Australia, has admitted that he is involved in the operation but only for humanitarian reasons. Speaking to journalists today (13/2) at Jakarta Police headquarters, the 36-year-old Turkish citizen however denied he was the mastermind of the people smuggling operation.

Quassey added that there were lots of people involved in smuggling people to Australia and he was only continuing what had been going on for years.

Quassey said that his main role was as an Arabic-Indonesian interpreter. Because he understands the situation in Indonesia, he also helps immigrants as regards safety and checks preparations for those going to Malaysia.

Quassey came to Indonesia in 1997, entering officially, and started a furniture business in Indonesia. But the immigration authorities deported him because he had overstayed his visa.

However, because of the increasing number of Middle Eastern people fleeing their hometowns due to the conflicts in their countries, Quassey changed his profession and started helping these illegal immigrants to get to the country they were heading for - Australia. Quassey admits that during his three-year stay in Indonesia he has smuggled around 200 people to Australia.

Unfortunately for Quassey however, National Police arrested him as he was picking his monthly refugee allowance from the United Nations for High Commissioner Refugees (UNHCR) office in Jakarta. He is currently being detained by the immigration authorities and held at the National Police detention center.

Up to now, no representative from the Turkish Embassy has visited or met with Quassey, nor was there a lawyer was present during his interrogation. According to Prasetyo, Head of the National Police Law Information Section, Quassey was arrested in November last year. He is accused of having violated article 55 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (KUHP), as he has been involved in smuggling people to Australia.

Quassey is also accused of having violated articles 50 and 53 of Law No. 9/1992 regarding Immigration Affairs because he misused his stay permit as a refugee in Indonesia to coordinate the smuggling of people to Australia.

Prasetyo explained that the immigration authorities were mainly involved in handling the case because of Quassey's immigration status. However, the police are also investigating his alleged involvement in a people smuggling syndicate.

The police have also arrested two Iraqis, Halid Daud and Mythem, who are suspected of helping Quassey. The police investigation has discovered that each illegal immigrant was paying between US$700 and US$1,200 to be smuggled to Australia. Quassey however denies it. 'I've never forced anyone to give me money. They're the ones who asked me for help,' he said.

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