Asia-Pacific

Indonesians regret taking asylum boat

Two Indonesian fishermen facing people smuggling charges for crewing an asylum seeker boat say they did it because their families needed the cash.

An Indonesian man facing up to 15 years' jail for people smuggling says it was the second time he sailed asylum seekers to Australia, induced by the promise of cash from the same man.

Dahrani, 25, told a court in West Timor on Tuesday the plan in July was to bring 25 people to Christmas Island, but his boat was intercepted by Australian officials and turned back.

Last year he had made it to Australian waters with 53 people, he said, and served two months' jail.

"I know bringing immigrants illegally is wrong, but there's financial pressure from my family," the fisherman said.

Dahrani told the court he received Rp 15 million ($A1500) for the failed venture, which was organised by the same man in his home town, known as Bobi.

His co-accused, Muhammad Jabar, also 25, apologised.

"I'm very sorry, I promise I won't work like this again," he said.

"I will be more focused in working as a fisherman only.

"I was tempted because of money offered by Bobi." His family in Sinjai, Sulawesi, had also needed the money, Jabar said.

Prosecutors have told the court Jabar received only Rp 5 million ($A500) of the payment promised.

Unlike the case of a boat turned back towards Rote in May, this one attracted little attention, and Jabar says he got no payment from the Australian officials.

"I'm not jealous of those who received the money," he said outside court.

"That's their luck.

"I won't be tempted again to take immigrants to Australia. Enough. No more."

Bobi remains at large, and the pair's trial continues next year.

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