Walkley award winning journalist, Ghassan Nakhoul, is returning to the SIEVX story for the second time this year in his program on SBS
Arabic radio which goes to air at 7pm tonight. Nakhoul's 'The Five Mysteries of SIEVX' was described last year by Walkley judges as 'a gripping series of eyewitness accounts of the sinking of the SIEV-X which played out the cultural complications of the story.'
Tonight's program includes new information on the Quassey trial that
Nakhoul has gleaned from Arabic media as well as interviews he has
conducted with a number of the Mandaeans who were passengers on SIEVX
but disembarked prior to the sinking.
21 of the 23 Mandaean passengers are still in Indonesia. It is
anticipated that Nakhoul will reveal that these people were only
interviewed by the Australian Federal Police in June this year despite
the fact that they have been in Indonesia since the sinking in October
2001. Interviews with the Mandaeans also confirm that there was a heavy Indonesian police presence when the boat was loaded - one of the interviewees stated that there were four generals among the police contingent overseeing the loading.
Other revelations include the astonishing fact that Abu Quassey's
brother-in-law (his Iraqi wife Linda's brother) was smuggled into
Australia on one of Quassey's boats and is living here on a Temporary
Protection Visa! When Nakhoul approached Immigration Minister Philip
Ruddock's office about this they declined to comment saying it was a
matter for the Australian Federal Police. And when Nakhoul approached
the Federal Police they never came back to him.
Nakhoul has also been researching the upcoming Egyptian trial of
Mootaz Attia (known in Australia as Abu Quassey) in the Arabic press.
According to the Egyptian newspaper Al Gomhuria (7 September) the trial is
taking place in Abdeen. Mohammed Mohyi is the judge; Rami Bashir
the prosecutor and Court Secretary is Khaled Omar. The name of
Quassey's attorney was not given. (All names and places are
Al Gomhuria describes Quassey as 'the owner of a tourism office in
Indonesia'. He has been charged with 'wrongly killing' 350 people. The
trial is set to resume on Saturday 13 September.
During last Saturday's hearing, Prosecutor Bashir stated that Quassey
had been paid $10,000 by each family that boarded SIEVX for passage to
Christmas Island. Bashir stated that evidence would be tendered
showing that Quassey had sent 'many' boats to Australia. Bashir told
the court that Egypt had been provided with information on Quassey
from Indonesia as well
as Australia and that both countries had been
unable to prosecute him for the killings. The court also heard that when Quassey was arrested in Indonesia, he initially claimed to be
Iraqi, then Turkish and finally Egyptian as he preferred to be
deported to Egypt. Bashir said that Quassey knew that the boat (SIEVX)
was not seaworthy and had a high probability of sinking.
Quassey's defence lawyer argued that it was wrong for Quassey to be
tried in Egypt, especially after he had been imprisoned in Indonesia
for his crimes. Quassey's lawyer claimed that the defendant was not
responsible for the deadly voyage and had no relationship with the
victims. At the end of the court session the Defence lawyer asked to
be provided with copies of the files from Australia and Indonesia to
which the court agreed.