Death boat smuggler has no remorse
The Australian
By Patrick Walters, Jakarta
2 January 2003

MOOTAZ Attia Mohammad Hasan, otherwise known as Abu Quassey, the man the Australian Government believes organised the fatal SIEV-X voyage which cost 353 asylum-seekers their lives, feels no responsibility for their deaths.

"I don't feel anything. I don't feel responsible. I don't own them," Mr Hasan said yesterday during an impromptu interview at the West Jakarta immigration detention centre after his release from Cipinang jail.

Asked if he knew he was sought by Australian authorities for people smuggling, Mr Hasan, an Egyptian, replied in Indonesian: "What do they want with me? I simply have to submit, what can I do."

Dressed in a black cotton shirt and khaki trousers, the 29-year- old was downcast and distracted as he sat in a small interview room after being driven from jail to the detention centre.

Indonesian authorities are preparing to deport Mr Hasan to Egypt - although Australia has tried strenuously to gain custody of him while he remains in Indonesia - but he denies having had any dealings with Australian police before landing in jail for visa violations last year.

Australian officials have held extensive discussions with Indonesian counterparts about Mr Hasan. He is wanted by the Australian Federal Police for people smuggling offences, including SIEV-X's voyage.

There is a worldwide Interpol alert out for Mr Hasan and Canberra hopes he will be detained by a third country, possibly Thailand, en route to Egypt. He is expected to leave Indonesia within days.

Mr Hasan, who is believed to have entered Indonesia illegally at least four years ago, is suspected by the AFP of involvement in people smuggling rackets since early 2000.

SIEV-X, a leaky wooden boat, grossly overcrowded with mostly Iraqi and Afghan nationals, foundered in the Indian Ocean in October 2001, soon after leaving the Sunda Strait.

Only 44 survivors were plucked from the sea.

Mr Hasan served a six-month term in jail for visa violations but there is no legal recourse for Canberra to arrange his extradition direct to Australia. People smuggling is not an offence under Indonesia's criminal code. Canberra has promised a worldwide hunt for Mr Hasan in the event that he is not detained in either Bangkok or Hong Kong, the jurisdictions which could help with his extradition to Australia.

Mr Hasan, whose Iraqi wife and child live in Indonesia, has previously said he ran a furniture business and acted as a tour guide after arriving from Egypt.

Egyptian authorities are providing Mr Hasan with travel documents. "He will go back to Egypt. But first he needs an exit visa," an Egyptian embassy spokesman said yesterday.

Mr Hasan's wife and child are also expected to return to Egypt at a later date.

After serving six months in jail Mr Hasan was driven from Jakarta's Cipinang prison shortly after 9am yesterday accompanied by a plain-clothes security officer.

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