The West

Pair deny people smuggling
Pair deny people smuggling

Two men have gone on trial in Perth accused of organising a people smuggling boat carrying 144 people which was intercepted near Christmas Island in May 2012.

Barkat Ali Wahide and Sayed Shahid Ali are both accused of organising the boat, which was trying to reach Christmas Island from Indonesia, carrying men, women and children.

Both men were also on the boat - with Mr Ali found in possession of more than $50,000 in US currency when he was confronted by authorities.

At the opening of the trial at Perth's District Court, prosecutor Mark Ritter SC outlined how the boat - subsequently codenamed SIEV 326 - was intercepted by navy officers on board HMAS Wollongong.

The navy had been informed the boat could be in distress, the court was told.

Pictures of the boat, crammed with dozens of people wearing orange life jackets, were shown at the start of the trial on front of Judge Mark Herron.

Two passengers on board will give evidence in the trial that the men organised their trip, and took thousands of dollars from them as payment.

When interviewed by federal officers, both men denied organising the trip, with Mr Wahide claiming he had paid Mr Ali as one of the dozens of people on board trying to get to Australia to claim asylum.

He admitted that when he was unable to pay the balance, he was asked by Mr Ali to help him with some of his fellow passengers while in Indonesia.

Mr Ali also denied he had organised any travel for to her passengers, saying the money found on him were savings from a restaurant business he had been involved in in Kuwait.

Both men denied charges of people smuggling, with Mr Ali also denying a charge of being in possession of proceeds of crime.

The trial is scheduled to run until the end of next week.

The West Australian

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