Kirsten Lawson's feature on sabotage concerns about the SIEV X (Canberra Sunday Times, December 15, page 24) breaks new ground on one important point, i.e. AFP National Operations Manager Ben McDevitt's statement that "On the homicide brief , the legal advice was that there was no relevant geographical connection with Australia".
There are at least three relevant geographical connections that the SIEV X drowned victims had with Australia:
1. Many of the victims (mostly women and children) had close male relatives (e.g. husbands, fathers) waiting for them and living in Australia. Any of these could ask AFP to press homicide charges against Quessai, if they were not too terrified and traumatised of what might happen to them if they did.
2. The victims were heading for the nearby Christmas Island, which is Australian territory, with the aim of lodging asylum claims there under the Refugee Convention.
3. There is strong evidence indicating that SIEV X sank 50-65 miles south of Java - well outside Indonesian territorial waters, and well inside the Australian "Operation Relex" border protection operational zone which extended northwards to 24 miles off the Java coast.
If the Australian Government were serious about bringing Quessai to justice for mass homicide, they could pursue any of the above three avenues.
Lawson's own well-written report makes clear that many legitimate questions remain over connections between disruption activities and the sinking of SIEV X.
Senators Faulkner, Bartlett and Collins are rightly pressing these questions, and two majority Senate motions passed last week fully endorsed their actions. So on what basis does Lawson label me as "obsessive", "alarmist" and "dogmatically refusing to let it go?".
It is hard to see how such negative personal commentary, obviously unhelpful to my public credibility, advances the cause of justice for the SIEV X victims.
Lawson's informants might remember that were it not for my persistent public questioning, these very disturbing matters would have remained hidden.