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Guilty plea to people smuggling charges
Guilty plea to people smuggling charges

An Iranian-born Australian man has pleaded guilty to people smuggling charges, including one arising out of the Christmas Island asylum seeker tragedy.

Ali Khorram Heydarkhani, 41, had been due to fight 14 charges at a 12-week District Court trial which was scheduled to start this morning but did not go ahead after he pleaded guilty to four of the charges.

Heydarkhani pleaded guilty to two charges of facilitating a group of five or more non-citizens into Australia between June and November 2010 and two charges of people smuggling in circumstances that gave rise to a danger of death or serious harm with reckless disregard of that danger between November 2010 and January 2011.

One of the charges related to him facilitating the travel of a passenger aboard the ill-fated vessel which smashed into cliffs off Christmas Island in December 2010.

The tragedy saw 50 people killed.

Three crew members are due to be sentenced next month.

Following Heydarkhani’s guilty pleas to four of the charges, prosecutor Ron Davies told the court the prosecution would not proceed with the remaining charges.

He said it was the first conviction under a new section of the law.

Heydarkhani, who was extradited to Perth following his arrest in Indonesia last year, was originally charged with 85 counts of smuggling individuals but those charges were later discontinued and replaced with 10 new charges.

Heydarkhani will be sentenced in October for the four charges, which carry a 20 year maximum.

Ahead of sentencing, defence lawyer Ian MacFarlane requested pre-sentence and psychiatric reports, telling the court telling the court his client had been under treatment for a “condition” for many years.

Details of the charges to which Haydarkhani pleaded guilty to this morning will be revealed in the District Court on Wednesday morning.