Authorities in Indonesia have arrested a man suspected of organising the asylum seeker boat that sank en route to Australia last month, killing about 90 people.
A senior officer with the Indonesian National Police said the man, identified as Haji Irfan, was taken into custody on Friday.
Police expect to charge him with people smuggling.
Irfan is suspected of organising the fatal voyage of an asylum seeker boat that sank on June 21 between Christmas Island and the Sunda Strait in Indonesia.
“We arrested him on Friday for his involvement in arranging people smuggling related to the asylum seekers taken to Christmas Island,” the police source said this afternoon.
The source said the investigation was ongoing, but confirmed that Irfan was believed to be a key member of a people-smuggling syndicate behind a large number of asylum seeker boats that had travelled to Australia.
“At the moment, he’s detained in police headquarters but he’s to be charged with people smuggling,” the police source said.
Irfan, an Afghan national, is believed to have connections with jailed people-smuggling kingpin Sayed Abbas.
More than 200 people were aboard the boat that sank on June 21 after leaving from Indonesia, although rescue authorities have said that an accurate figure may never be known.
All 110 survivors from the fatal voyage are on Christmas Island.
Police are also investigating whether Irfan was behind a second fatal people-smuggling venture involving a boat that capsized and sank on its way to Australia last Wednesday.
Four people died and 130 were rescued after the second boat sank 13 nautical miles west of where the 90 people perished less than a week earlier.The survivors of the second boat - 113 men, three women, 12 boys and two girls - have also been taken to Christmas Island.
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