World Bulletin / News Desk
Australian officials have reportedly paid thousands of dollars to the captain and crew of a refugee boat that was carrying asylum seekers, who were then ordered to return to Indonesia, according to passengers and an Indonesian police chief. Sixty-five asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar were detained.
One of the Indonesian captains on board a refugee boat said that they were detained by Australian customs officials in late May and were returned to the island of Rote. The Indonesian police chief on the island of Rote was told by the captain and crew that they were detained, and that the crew separately gave $7000 AUD to each member of the crew. The customs officer, named Agus, spoke fluent Indonesian.
According to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, the crew had told the officials that if they were to turn back they would be arrested by Indonesia for people smuggling. However after the captain met with the customs officials, he said that they had to turn back as Australia will "pay" for them.
The boat had enough supplies to last the trip to New Zealand. This was burnt by the customs officers, and the crew and passengers were given two smaller boats with limited fuel supply and dried goods for the journey.
The Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, when questioned whether Australian officials had made such a payment, he simply said, "no".
An Immigration Department spokesman said: "The Australian government does not comment on or disclose operational details where this would prejudice the outcome of current or future operations."
The crew were arrested when they arrived at Rote and are currently being processed for people-smuggling offences.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Haziran 2015, 22:52