People smuggler jailed for 9 years

The Australian
FRI 15 JUL 2005
By Cath Hart, Michael McKinnon

A GOLDSMITH from Baghdad wiped tears from his eyes yesterday as he was sentenced to nine years' jail for his part in organising the ill-fated voyage of the Siev-X in which 353 asylum-seekers drowned attempting to reach Australia.

Khaleed Shnayf Daoed, 37, was given a 4 1/2-year non-parole sentence and time off for 785 days already spent in custody.

Brisbane Supreme Court judge Phil McMurdo said Daoed had been at a senior level of the people-smuggling operation and the number of people on the overcrowded vessel was an important consideration in sentencing.

'Perhaps it was not inevitable that it (the Siev-X) would sink but it was going to be a highly dangerous voyage,' Justice McMurdo said.

'This was such a crowded boat that once a passenger was on board they could not move.

'If profit was not your only motivation, it was a substantial one. You put your interests above those of the passengers.'

The Siev-X -- a 19m wooden boat overcrowded with more than 400 asylum-seekers -- sank in international waters south of Indonesia on October 19, 2001. Daoed was arrested on May 22, 2003.

Justice McMurdo said the evidence showed Daoed had a prominent role in assisting in the organisation of the Siev-X voyage to Australia. 'I cannot accept that you were doing it because of good intentions to the passengers.'

He said the need for deterrent penalties for people-smuggling was 'manifest' but said there were good prospects for Daoed's rehabilitation.

'I accept that that what happened to those on board the vessel has caused you stress and grief,' he said.

Prosecutor Glen Rice told Justice McMurdo that the people-smuggler had shown no remorse other than self-pity and was aware of the risks of the journey.

'It's not a humanitarian exercise to take money from people and put them on a boat when it was obvious to him of the risks involved,' Mr Rice said.

Last month Daoed was found guilty of assisting principal people-smuggler Abu Quassey, who was sentenced in Egypt to more than five years for his role in their attempt to bring illegal immigrants to Australia in 2001.


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