Australia snubbed over 'smuggler'
From correspondents in Jakarta
15 April 2003

INDONESIA said today it expects to deport a suspected people smuggler later this week to Egypt, snubbing a request by Canberra to try him in Australia.

Abu Quassey, an Egyptian citizen, was arrested in Indonesia on immigration charges in November 2001, a month after 374 asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq drowned when their Australia-bound boat sank.

Quassey, also known as Mootaz Attia Mohammad Hasan, acknowledged organising the voyage, but denied responsibility for the deaths. He later said his role was limited to that of a translator for asylum seekers.

Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra told reporters that Abu Quassey would be flown to Egypt this week.

Australia has issued an international arrest warrant for Abu Quassey. It wants to put him on trial for the migrants' deaths and other people smuggling charges, and contends the trial would deter other asylum seekers from making the trip to Australia.

Quassey is now in a detention centre in Jakarta after serving a six-month jail sentence for visa violations. Indonesia has no laws that make people smuggling a criminal offence.

The Associated Press

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