Human trafficker pursued
11 September 2003
Al-Ahram Weekly Online
THE AUSTRALIAN government said Monday it would renew its offer to help Egyptian authorities prosecute an alleged human trafficker, Mo'taz Mohamed Hassan, accused of organising a voyage in which 353 asylum seekers drowned near Australia. Australian government officials said a previous offer had gone unanswered as had a request for the extradition of Hassan, an Egyptian who is better known as Abu Quassey.
Australian police accuse Abu Quassey of organising an ill-fated October 2001 voyage of asylum seekers mainly from Afghanistan and Iraq, to reach Australia aboard the Indonesian ship Siev X.
Abu Quassey was arrested in Indonesia last year on visa violations but Australia failed to gain his extradition as Indonesia has no laws against human trafficking. The suspect was instead deported to Egypt and Australia has vowed to pursue legal action against him.
"We will not relent in the pursuit of Abu Quassey. We will never give up," vowed Justice and Customs Minister Chris Ellison last year. On Monday, a spokesman for Ellison said a meeting with the Egyptian ambassador was expected this week to discuss action against the alleged human trafficker.
"While we would have preferred Abu Quassey to have appeared in an Australian court, the Australian government welcomes the Egyptian prosecution of Abu Quassey," said the spokesman.
The Egyptian prosecutor general has charged Abu Quassey with 353 counts of manslaughter and his trial is expected in the near future.