A 10-year prison term recently handed to a people smuggler who helped organise a boat carrying 50 illegal arrivals to Australia sends a clear warning, the immigration minister says.
Iraqi-born Hosiene Mohamed, 44, was extradited to Perth from Germany to face trial and was convicted in February of organising at least five non-citizens to come to Australia.
The Royal Australian Navy intercepted SIEV 185 at Ashmore Island in September 2010 and found 56 people onboard, including four Indonesian crew and passengers predominantly from Kuwait and Iraq.
They were all taken to Christmas Island where seven of them identified Mohamed as the person they dealt with to come to Australia.
WA District Court Judge Richard Keen said in sentencing that the people were under stress and in danger in their own country, and some gave evidence of being arrested and beaten.
“They were persecuted because of their backgrounds or religious or political beliefs,” he said.
“They had to leave their country, otherwise they would be imprisoned, tortured or may even be killed.”
The court heard the price to get to Australia was between US$6500 and US$8000.
Judge Keen said Mohamed’s pseudonym of Sayed Hadar was well known as the “go-to man” and it “beggars belief” that the seven people who testified about dealing with him were the only ones.
Mohamed obtained a visa to come to Australia in 2007 and was later given residency in Australia after he was jailed and severely tortured in Iraq for 20 months for becoming involved in an organisation that worked against the Saddam Hussein regime.
“It must have been a great relief for you to be accepted in this country. However, you have abused that sanctuary and hospitality,” Judge Keen said.
Mohamed was sentenced to a minimum of seven-and-a-half years behind bars.
There are currently 18 people serving a sentence in Australian prisons for people smuggling.
Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday that the case showed the success of Operation Sovereign Borders.
“This sentence highlights the seriousness of the illegal people smuggling trade and further reinforces our determination to pursue those involved,” he said.