Asylum seekers 'threatened' ship captain

·2-min read

Asylum seekers being smuggled to Australia threatened the ship's captain when he wanted to stop the voyage saying the vessel would not make it, a court has been told.

The testimony was heard in the committal hearing of Iraqi national Maythem Kamil Radhi who is accused of involvement in a syndicate that put hundreds of people on an allegedly overcrowded and dilapidated boat known as SIEV-X in 2001.

The scheme involved the attempted smuggling of 421 people, ending with 353 drowning, 146 of them children.

Radhi, 45, is not charged over the deaths, but faces one count of bringing groups of non-citizens into Australia, while two men have already been imprisoned for their involvement.

Quasy Al Majid, who escaped from the boat before its passengers were in danger, told Brisbane Magistrates Court by video-link on Wednesday the captain said he did not want to continue to Australia.

The hearing was told Mr Al Majid said in his statement some people offered the captain money.

The captain replied that he did not want money and the boat would not make it to Australia, according to the statement read in court.

Mr Al Majid said he saw the captain's Indonesian assistant hit on the head, while a woman with a knife threatened to kill the captain if he didn't continue on the journey.

Mr Al Majid and his family got off onto a fishing boat before the SIEV-X sank.

The case against Radhi suggests he played a "facilitation" role before the ill-fated voyage left Indonesia, commonwealth prosecutor Daniel Caruana said at the start of the hearing.

Some witnesses say he was present when money was negotiated, but they "more consistently" remembered him as an organiser, Mr Caruana said.

Much of the allegation centres on taking care of logistics, including buses between hotels and beaches.

Witnesses said they were taken by bus to a hotel in Sumatra where they spent days waiting for the boat.

But there were up to eight rooms only for women and children so the men stayed in the hotel grounds.

Radhi surrendered two years ago after deciding to stop pursuing appeals against his extradition from New Zealand.

An arrest warrant was issued in Brisbane Magistrates Court for him in 2011.

But the process was delayed while his eligibility for extradition was argued in courts in New Zealand, where he had been living with his wife and three children since 2009.

The committal hearing continues.

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