Siev X doomed, survivor tells courtBy Kevin Meade
6 April 2004
A SURVIVOR of the Siev X, the boat that sank on its way to Australia, with the loss of 353 asylum-seekers, told a court yesterday how he feared for his safety almost as soon as the overcrowded vessel left Indonesia.
Rami Akram, 20, an Iraqi, told Brisbane Magistrates Court the engine was smoking when he boarded off the coast of Sumatra early on October 18, 2001, and the vessel had begun taking in water less than 1km out to sea.
He had asked the captain: 'Do you think this boat will get us to Australia?' The captain had replied: 'No.' The boat, carrying 397 people, capsized the next day. Only 45 survived.
Mr Akram, who lives in Melbourne on a temporary protection visa, was giving evidence on the first day of a committal hearing for Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 36, an Iraqi extradited from Sweden in November.
He faces 10 charges of aiding illegal immigration in connection with the Siev X and two in connection with another vessel, the Yambuk, which carried 147 asylum-seekers to Christmas Island in August 2001. Crown prosecutor Alan Macsporran said Mr Daoed was an aide to the main organiser of the Siev X voyage, Egyptian Abu Quassey, who was sentenced to seven years' jail in Egypt in December for homicide through negligence and people smuggling.
Mr Akram said he fled Iraq with his mother in March 2001. They lived in Iran for months and then flew to Malaysia and Indonesia, where they hoped to arrange travel on a boat to Australia through people smugglers.
They stayed in a hotel in Bogor, Indonesia, where Mr Akram met Mr Daoed and another man named Maitham.
Mr Akram said Mr Daoed told him they worked for Quassey, who was well known among refugees as a people smuggler who had organised successful journeys.
He met Quassey, who told him the journey to Australia would cost him and his mother $US1500 ($1980) each, which was to be paid to Quassey's family by relatives overseas.
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