Extradited people smuggler "could not read or write"


People smuggler sentenced to 12 years in prison for smuggling 209 people into Australian waters.

One of Australia's most wanted people smugglers, Sayad Abbas, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison ending a legal battle that began in 2011.
The 35-year-old was arrested in 2011 on charges of people smuggling, before a lengthy court process to extradite him to Australia was finally approved in 2015.

Abbas appeared in Perth's District Court with an interpreter for the handing down of his sentence, which took into account his time detained and the conditions in the Indonesian prisons.

12 years in prison

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for 3 charges of facilitating transport into Australian waters for people without visas or the right to live in Australia.

The incidents occurred between March 2009 and August 2011, in which three boats carrying 209 passengers were sent into Australian waters without documentation.

In sentencing, the judge said Abbas was “motivated by financial gain” and that his “role in the operation was substantial”, involving contacting passengers before they travelled to Indonesia to providing food, accommodation and transport to the boat.

Passengers from a wide range of backgrounds, including Afghan and Pakistani, were charged between US$5,000 and US$10,000 for the service.

Lack of education 

The judge acknowledged Abbas had mental health issues including depression and PTSD, and that he was not able to read or write due to a lack of education.
The Afghan national had escaped his home country to Indonesia over a decade ago, spending 5 years in a refugee camp before being granted asylum.
In a letter to the judge - written by a fellow inmate  - Abbas accepted that his actions were illegal but explained he originally "did not realise" he had done something wrong.
The defence pointed to his childhood in Afghanistan with no education during a time of war, which they said contributed to his lack of knowledge of laws along with mental health issues.
Abbas apologised “for the burden [he had] become on Australia and its people,” saying he understood he needed to be reprimanded for his actions.
Due to his extensive time in custody, the charges were backdated to the 8th of May 2012 for a 12-year term, with a minimum parole term of 7 years, 3 months.
As he has no additional charges from his time in detainment, Sayad Abbas will be eligible for parole in August 2019.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch