GIST OF THE DAY: People smuggler goes free

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Australia's most wanted people smuggler has
been set free by an Indonesian court and
granted his wish to return home to Afghanistan.
The South Jakarta court ruled on Thursday that
Sayed Abbas, 30, who was accused of being a
smuggling kingpin, could not be extradited as
requested by the Australian government.
Chief Judge Pranoto said Abbas could go free
immediately. But as he was hustled into a car
outside the court, his lawyer said that after
formalities, his client would be taken to the
airport and deported to Afghanistan.
Abbas has made it clear this is his preferred
outcome: ''Yes, I'm so happy going back to
The decision is a serious rebuff to the
Australian government, which is trying to get
Indonesia to take a stronger law-enforcement
approach to people smuggling.
Abbas, who for most of the day had covered the
lower part of his face with a green scarf,
complaining of a dental ailment, said he was
happy with the verdict and that he would take
his Indonesian wife and child back home with
He had denied during the case and afterwards
that he was involved in the illegal movement of
people to Australia, saying other people had
used his name in their own operations. He also
revealed he had once been an Australia Federal
Police informant.
Judge Pranoto said the prosecutors had failed to
make their case for extradition in three
respects. First, the crimes of which Abbas was
accused were not committed in Australia, the
country requesting extradition. Second, the
crime of people smuggling does not appear on
Indonesia's list of crimes covered by extradition
Third, even if the crime had been proved, the
Indonesian government would have needed to
approve the extradition, Judge Pranoto said. It
had not done so.
The judge also appeared sceptical that Abbas
could have committed the crimes because he
was in jail on an Indonesian conviction for
people-smuggling at the time.
It was the Australian police case that Abbas
had run his operation from his cell in Jakarta's
Salemba prison. Australia wanted to charge him
over the illegal movement of 27 people on two
different boats in 2009 and 2011. Prosecutors
told the court in May that he had charged
between $US5000 and $US10,000 per passenger
for passage from beaches near Mataram in West
Java to Australia. It is not part of the
indictment, but it is also believed Abbas was
responsible for a boat that sank off Java in
December 2011, killing about 200 people.
Australia had sought Abbas' extradition since
March 2009, but first he had to serve out prison
time in Indonesia. The failed extradition
request adds to a series of failures in Australian
attempts to prosecute people-smugglers in
foreign jurisdictions.

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