The Australian Federal Police has arrested and charged a 43-year-old Iraqi man for allegedly organising a people smuggling venture that resulted in the deaths of more than 350 people in 2001.
The man was taken into custody by AFP officers at Brisbane Airport on Friday (18 October) evening following his extradition from New Zealand. He appeared before Brisbane Magistrates Court today (19 October 2019) and has been remanded in custody to reappear in court on 31 October 2019.
It will be alleged that the man was part of a syndicate that organised the transportation of people on a fishing boat known as Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel (SIEV) X. Two other men have also faced court for their role in the 2001 venture.
The vessel sank in international waters on 19 October 2001, resulting in the deaths of more than 350 people.
The AFP investigation to identify those responsible for the SIEV X venture commenced in October 2001.
Police will allege in court that the man, then aged 24, took payments from the passengers. It will also be alleged that he helped facilitate the transportation and accommodation of people in Indonesia in preparation for their journey to Australia.
He has been charged with organising groups of non-citizens into Australia, contrary to section 232A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said this arrest is a clear demonstration the AFP will never waver in its commitment to bringing people smugglers to justice no matter how long it may take.
“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that more than 350 people died in this tragedy. They are owed justice and we remain committed to deterring those who profit from this trade,” Commissioner Kershaw said.