Australian authorities will be relieved that SIEVX people smuggler
Abu Quassey may soon be sent home to Egypt
16 April 2003
According to a report in The Australian On Line Edition dated 15 April, from correspondents in Jakarta, Indonesia's Justice Minister Yusril Mahendra told reporters that Abu Quassey would be flown to Egypt this week. The report characterised this decision as "snubbing" a request by Canberra to try Quassey in Australia, and added:
"Australia has issued an international arrest warrant for Abu Quassey. It wants to put him on trial for the migrants' deaths and other people smuggling charges, and contends the trial would deter other asylum seekers from making the trip to Australia".(my italics)
Like almost everything else that the Australian authorities have ever said about Abu Quassey, the above statement is untrue. A referral to www.sievx.com, which has a comprehensive archive on Quassey under Articles - 'people smuggling', 'disruption' and Quassey will readily verify this.
Australian authorities will not be "snubbed" if Quassey is now deported to Egypt: they will be delighted, because they will hope it may finally take the Quassey problem off the Australian public agenda (it won't). Had Quassey been brought to trial in Australia, on any charge, he might have said too much about the Australian Federal Police's own murky connections to the Indonesian police's people smuggling disruption activities. Those Indonesian police disruption activities may be connected with the drowning of 353 people on a deliberately overloaded and unsafe suspected illegal entry vessel (SIEVX), which sank on 19 October 2001 on its way from Sumatra to Christmas Island.
The Australian authorities' claimed legal pursuit of Quassey has from the beginning been bogus. They have only ever issued warrants against Quassey for people smuggling, which they have known are unenforceable in Indonesia, because people smuggling is not a crime there. Their warrant against Quassey in respect of people smuggling on SIEVX was only issued in December 2002 following intense pressure from the Senate on Australian authorities to do something about SIEVX - though they had ample witness testimony against Quassey's dangerous embarkation of SIEVX soon after the tragedy, from five of the seven survivors now living in Australia under Temporary Protection Visas. They have never issued any warrant relating to the deaths of the 353 passengers.
At the time of Quassey's release from Indonesian prison on 31 December 2002, Senator Ellison promised: "We will chase him and there will be no relenting in that pursuit, no matter where he goes or how long he lives". An AFP spokesman said on 1 January: "There is an Interpol alert out in 170 countries and as soon as he goes anywhere we will be trying to put our hands on him."
Indonesia's Justice Minister Yusril postponed Quassey's intended deportation to Egypt. On 28 January, he reportedly said: "If Australia demanded the suspect be deported directly to Canberra, 'we would have to consider the request seriously'." In other words, Yusril was ready to consider assisting the deportation of Quassey to Australia on charges relating to the deaths of the people on SIEVX - despite Indonesia not having people smuggling laws. A few days later Yusril complained that Australian authorities were not serious about bringing Quassey to trial. Soon afterwards, Yusril recommended to President Megawati that Quassey be sent to Egypt, not to Australia - a recommendation that she accepted. There is no record of John Howard ever raising the Quassey matter during his February visit to Jakarta - nor did his staff flag that he was going to raise it. President Megawati, in her press briefing after their meeting, announced her decision not to allow Quassey to be extradited to Australia for people smuggling.
Quassey will be escorted to Egypt, a free man under the consular protection of accompanying Egyptian police. There is no possibility of an Interpol arrest being effected under those circumstances. Will Quassey be put on trial in Egypt? If so, on what charge - people smuggling, or homicide-related crimes? Will the Australian authorities provide dossiers of evidence and fly survivor witnesses to Quassey's great crimes to Egypt to testify against Quassey? Will Mr Ruddock allow this, under their Temporary Protection Visas?
Following are relevant media articles: