Refugee groups want Australia to send investigators

The Age (online version)
December 28, 2003

Refugee groups want the federal government to send officials to Egypt to investigate whether people smuggler Abu Quassey can be prosecuted in Australia.

Quassey, also known as Moataz Attiya Mohamed Hassan, was found guilty of manslaughter for organising the ill-fated voyage of Siev X, which sank on its way to Australia in October 2001, killing 353 asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Cairo court yesterday sentenced Quassey to five years in jail for homicide through negligence and another two for aiding illegal migration.

The federal government sought in April to extradite Quassey to Australia to answer people smuggling charges following his deportation from Indonesia to Egypt.

Director of A Just Australia, an umbrella body of refugee groups, Howard Glenn, said Quassey's jailing should open the door for the Australian government to look at extraditing him here after he had served his jail sentence.

He said a senior investigation team should be sent to Egypt to uncover more information which could be used to prosecute him in Australia.

'Hopefully now he's in jail there won't be any excuse for the government not to be able to get him to come to Australia and face more investigations,' he said.

'We want to see as much effort go into the prosecution of the people smugglers as they do into the prosecution of the people who use people smugglers.

'We want to see a real focus on the people smugglers, instead of the focus that's been on the people who use them.'



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