Advertisement

Stacks of cash paid to people smugglers: report

Cash which Indonesian Police took from people smugglers. They say it came from Australian official 'Agus'. Photo: Fairfax Media

Cash which Indonesian Police took from people smugglers. They say it came from Australian official 'Agus'. Photo: Fairfax Media

Thick wads of $100 bills said to have been paid by Australian officials to people smugglers to land in Indonesia have been photographed and posted by Fairfax Media.

Indonesian police organised to have the money, which totals about US$30,000, photographed to encourage Australian politicians to admit they paid people smugglers.

“We have given you the evidence,” General Endang Sunjaya, the police chief of Nusa Tenggara Timur province, told Fairfax.

“It’s now up to you and other organisations to demand an answer from the Australian government.”

• Abbott faces three separate probes into boat pay-off scandal
• Call to end ‘breathtaking’ secrecy over people smuggler tactics
• Refugees tell UN that Navy paid smugglers

Cash which Indonesian Police took from people smugglers. They say it came from Australian official 'Agus'. Photo: Fairfax Media

Cash which Indonesian Police took from people smugglers. They say it came from Australian official ‘Agus’. Photo: Fairfax Media

General Endang said the smugglers swore under oath that Australians paid the six crew to take 65 asylum seekers to Indonesia.

He said he had made an official report to the national police headquarters in Jakarta.

“We believe the payments happened,” said General Endang. “They all said the same thing. They were paid by Australian officials to return to Indonesia.”

The deal was allegedly struck by an Australian officer named Agus, said the head of the people smuggling division at Nusa Tenggara province, known only as Ibrahim.

“Agus was not wearing a uniform, he went back and forth between the two (Navy and customs) ships,” Mr Ibrahim said. “He was respected by the other officials and had authority over the situation.”

UN inquiry

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.08.31 pmMeanwhile, a group of 65 asylum seekers in Indonesia has told of seeing Australian officials hand a “thick envelope” to the captain of their vessel before their boat was turned around, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) told the ABC.

Thomas Vargas, the Indonesia representative for UNCHR, said one UN staff member interviewed the group on Rote Island, in Indonesia, where the boat arrived in late May.

“They indicated they had been with Australian authorities for several days, that the Australian authorities took the boat crew for several hours and spoke with them,” Mr Vargas told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

“At one point, they saw the boat captain receive a thick envelope and return back to two boats that were then turned around to the open sea and several days later they arrived in Indonesia.”

Mr Vargas said the group of asylum seekers identified the Australian boats as being Customs and Navy vessels.

No denial

tony-abbott

Smugglers will be stopped, by hook or by crook, Tony Abbott said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to confirm or deny if Australian officials paid the people smugglers to turn the boat around.

The UNHCR has not interviewed the people smugglers but has had discussions with Australian officials “at various levels” about the situation.

“We certainly do not condone or encourage this type of approach… obviously, that could encourage more of this activity,” Mr Vargas said.

While the Opposition has criticised the Government regarding the allegations, 7.30 reported on Monday night that Labor refused to rule out paying people smugglers for intelligence during the Rudd-Gillard era.

Did Labor also pay?

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten reiterated Labor’s stance on Tuesday afternoon.

“It doesn’t matter what party the politician is from – when it comes to security matters, we simply don’t comment,” he said.

He did comment, however, on a more specific question.

“Labor has never paid people smugglers to turn back boats and that appears to be what the Government is doing,” he said.

– with ABC

Advertisement
Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter.
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.