Transcript of DoorstopSenator the Hon. Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs
Friday, 10 October 2003
ELLISON: Australia welcomes the decision by the Swedish Government to extradite alleged people smuggler Khaleed Daoed to Australia. This is the culmination of a long-standing operation by Australian law enforcement authorities working with overseas countries and, of course, the Australian Federal Police are now putting in measures to escort Mr Daoed to Australia as soon as possible. Mr Daoed is wanted in relation to 13 charges relating to people smuggling and upon conviction, this carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. These are very serious matters and, of course, it is alleged that Mr Daoed is an accomplice of Abu Quassey, who we say was involved in the sinking of SIEV X which tragically involved the loss of 353 lives. This latest development demonstrates the clear commitment that Australia has to bringing people smugglers to justice. We've been relentless in our pursuit of Mr Abu Quassey and Mr Daoed. Mr Abu Quassey is now being tried in Egypt in relation to his involvement with the sinking of SIEV X and we are providing every assistance possible to the Egyptian authorities. We welcome the decision by the Swedish Government and we acknowledge the Swedish law enforcement authorities' cooperation in this matter and, of course, we have put steps in place to have Mr Daoed brought to Australia as soon as possible.
REPORTER: Do you have a timeline, how long it's likely to take and the process involved in getting him over here?
ELLISON: Well, the ins and outs of Mr Daoed's transport to Australia, of course, are operational and I can't comment on that but can I say that the Australian Federal Police is putting in place measures to bring him to Australia as soon as possible.
REPORTER: Can you give us some more details about how he was apprehended?
ELLISON: This has resulted from a long-standing investigation. Our Anti-People Smuggling Strike Team involving Immigration, Australian Federal Police and other law enforcement officials working with overseas countries. Mr Daoed is an Iraqi national and, of course, when we located him in Sweden we put in an extradition request. That Government has now decided that he should be extradited to Australia. We welcome that decision and, of course, we want him brought back, brought to Australia as soon as possible to face justice in Australia.
REPORTER: Whereabouts in Australia will he be brought to?
ELLISON: Mr Daoed will be tried in Brisbane upon his arrival.
REPORTER: What about Mr Quassey? As far as I understand he's in Egypt and you say he's being dealt with over people smuggling. Is there any chance of getting him extradited here or are you happy for him to be dealt with over there?
ELLISON: Well, we have sought the extradition of Mr Abu Quassey and, of course, for legal reasons that wasn't possible and when it became apparent that Egypt was willing to try him in relation to his alleged involvement with SIEV X we have given them every assistance possible. The Australian Federal Police have been to Egypt in relation to assisting the prosecution in relation to that matter and this demonstrates our clear commitment to have Mr Abu Quassey brought to justice whether it be in Egypt or Australia. We would have preferred it to have been in Australia. Legally that wasn't possible so we're, of course, assisting the Egyptian authorities. In the case of Mr Daoed, we now have this decision by the Swedish Government to extradite him to Australia and, of course, we're seeking that that happens as soon as possible and when he is brought to Australia the proceedings will be dealt with in the Brisbane court.
REPORTER: (inaudible) Mr Abu Quassey, do you know what sort of penalties he might face if convicted over in Egypt?
ELLISON: We're not aware of the penalties in relation to Mr Abu Quassey in Egypt. We understand they're substantial should he be convicted but, of course, the penalty that would be imposed there upon any conviction is a matter for the Egyptian court.
REPORTER: Several people have now been extradited to Australia. Who else is on your most wanted list?
ELLISON: Well, of course, Mr Daoed is the third extradition that we've successfully sought. Mr Al Jenabbi is in Australia after having been extradited from Thailand and he is going through the Australian courts as we speak. Mr Ayoub was another alleged people smuggler that we've extradited from Thailand and he's in the Australian courts as we speak. It demonstrates a clear commitment by the Australian Government to bring people smugglers to justice and we will be relentless in our pursuit of them. There are other people of interest and I'm not going to signal our shots. Of course, that's a matter which is operational and we don't want to give the game away there.
REPORTER: Just one other question on Mr Daoed. Do you know what sort of role he played in terms of the SIEV X?
ELLISON: It is alleged that Mr Daoed is an accomplice of Mr Abu Quassey in relation to the SIEV X tragedy and, of course, it's a very serious issue. 353 people lost their lives and we want Mr Daoed brought to justice for that. I'm not going to go into any further detail. That is a matter for the prosecution in Australia when proceedings commence but I can tell you that if convicted the maximum penalty involved is 20 years imprisonment. Of course, that demonstrates the seriousness of the matter.
REPORTER: Sorry, Mr Ellison, can I just ask you a quick question about Bali? What assurances can you offer to friends and family travelling over there this weekend in terms of security?
ELLISON: Well, of course, the Australian Government has reiterated the travel warnings to anyone going to Bali, and Indonesia for that matter, and we've indicated that the choice, of course, is up to those people who want to go there for the memorial service. Having said that, I can say that the security which is in place is substantial. We have Australian Federal Police there. We have a very large number of Indonesian National Police there and, of course, people who are trained in this sort of security but having said that, we can't take away from the fact that there is a threat which is being communicated through our travel advisories. It is pleasing to see that many people are going there for the memorial service. We've always said that even in this environment of increased security we don't want to see Australians staying at home, staying indoors and not going about their normal daily business or what they would otherwise be doing. Australians are an adventurous nation, particularly young Australians who like to travel overseas and certainly, we don't want to see our lifestyle change because of some terrorists.