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Australia jails 11 people smugglers.



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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Australia jails 11 people smugglers

The Hon Brendan O'Connor and Senator Chris Evans - Joint media release

The Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, today welcomed the jailing of 11 Indonesian skippers and boat crew involved in recent people smuggling activity, saying it sends a strong message that Australia will not tolerate such crimes.

Mr O'Connor said the total of 56 years and six months in jail terms handed down in the Western Australian District Court to the 11 men involved in four separate ventures to smuggle 147 people into Australia between 6 December 2008 and 14 March 2009, reinforced the message that those found guilty of people smuggling faced severe punishment.

Three men pleaded guilty to smuggling 44 people after their boat was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy north of Broome in Western Australia on December 6 last year. Achmad Muklis, Hamirudin and Samsir Ali Topan were sentenced to five years' jail.

Three other men pleaded guilty to smuggling 34 people after their boat was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy north-east of Darwin on December 16 last year. Yan Tonce, Arman and Arsil were each sentenced to five years in prison.

Three more men pleaded guilty to smuggling 17 people after their boat was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy north of Ashmore Island on January 17 this year. Tasri Laode, Mimu and Adi Haidar all received jail terms of five years and six months.

Two men pleaded guilty to smuggling 52 people after their boat was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy off the Coburg Peninsula, north-east of Darwin on 14 March this year. Soltan Ele and Junaidi were both sentenced to five years' jail.

Today's sentencings bring to 14 the number of people smugglers jailed by Australian courts in the past four months.

In April, two men received jail terms of five years and six years for a venture to smuggle 26 people into Australia on two separate occasions in October and November last year. Another man is serving a six year jail term for trying to smuggle 14 people into Australia last September.

The ministers also welcomed the charging today of a 35-year-old Sydney man who faced court after being arrested by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for allegedly facilitating people smuggling activities.

It is alleged he aided people arriving on a venture which was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy near Christmas Island on June 28, with 193 people on board.

'People smuggling is a crime that exploits vulnerable people during times of desperation and demonstrates a callous disregard for the law,' Mr O'Connor said.

'The Australian Government has maintained extensive patrolling of our borders by Border Protection Command and organisers, skippers and crews of people smuggling ventures face long jail terms if caught and convicted.'

The maximum penalty for the offence of organising to bring a group of five or more non-citizens into Australia contrary to section 232A of the Migration Act 1958 is 20 years' imprisonment.

Senator Evans said the Australian Government will continue to work with regional partners to deal with issues involving irregular migration and people smugglers.

'The Government has renewed efforts to work closely with regional countries including Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to prevent and deter people from attempting to enter Australia unlawfully,' Senator Evans said.

'The Rudd Government has also consistently made clear its commitment to maintain a system of mandatory detention and excision.'

See: Index of Media Releases

URL: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au /media/media-releases/2009/ce09064.htm Last update: 01 July 2009 at 17:26 AEST