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Iraqi linked to 353 people smuggling deaths calls NZ home

As New Zealand agrees to accept 150 refugees from Australia's controversial detention centres, the High Court has blocked the extradition to Australia of a suspected people smuggler allegedly responsible for the deaths of 353 people.

Crown lawyer Christine Gordon, QC, told NBR ONLINE it is too early to say whether the Crown will appeal the High Court's decision. 

According to Australian police, Iraqi-born Maythem Radhi was involved in trying to smuggle hundreds of asylum seekers from Indonesia to Australia in 2001 aboard the Siev X.

The boat sank, killing 146 children, 142 women and 65 men, while 45 were rescued by Indonesian fishermen.

Radhi was granted refugee status and has been living in New Zealand since 2009.

An arrest warrant was issued from Australia alleging attempted people smuggling.

In July 2011 he was arrested at his house in Auckland.

Judge Jonathan Moses in the District Court initially decided to extradite him to Australia, but Radhi appealed.

Now, the High Court in Auckland has reversed that decision, with Justice Ed Wylie saying Radhi could not be extradited to Australia because if his alleged offence had occurred within New Zealand jurisdiction it would not have been punishable by more than a year's imprisonment.

Radhi's lawyer Roger Chambers argued there is no evidence the Siev X entered Australian waters, and no illegal immigrants arrived in Australia.

He also argued Rahdi had not actually committed an offence in Australia and therefore could not be extradited.

Ms Gordon argued it was enough that Radhi had been accused of an extraditable offence.

The decision comes as Prime Minister John Key makes a deal with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard for New Zealand to take 150 refugees from Australia's controversial asylum centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

callison@nbr.co.nz

More by Caleb Allison

Comments and questions
10

Unbelievable.
His status should be revoked and sent back from where he came.
Is this the type of person that NZ is accepting? Different culture, different values.

I am led to understand if you are involved in the death of another - i.e., your workplace is not safe - then you can be charged with manslaughter. Therefore if this man did, indeed, arrange the transport of these victims aboard an unseaworthy vessel then he must be held to account. Surely this is manslaughter. I will bet if you run a charter vessel and don’t keep its maintenance up to date, etc, it sinks and some people drown you will be charged with manslaughter. Therefore why can he not be extradited. Has our justice system really gone that soft?

Agreed - last time I looked manslaughter carried a greater than 12 month prison sentence - which, based on the article, should allow extradition. However - I wonder if NZ has jurisdiction to charge for manslaughter if not in NZ waters either ??
Either way - surely citizenship can be revoked if gained under refugee status.

Justice Ed Wylie and Radhi's lawyers are the ones that should be extradited. In generations to come, NZ will rue the day we opened the door to boat people, and their kind of ilk.

A crime has to be committed inside a specific jurisdiction for that jurisdiction's laws to apply. It didn't, so he shouldn't be extradited. If you don't like it change the law and international treaties.

Yes, that is why people sail out to sea to commit murder, rape and torture. That way they can get away with it, right?

Firstly, a quick internet search will advise you that it sunk in Indonesia's EEZ.

Secondly, the law of the sea does allow for the prosecution of people who commit crimes even while outside a "specific jurisdiction".

In this case it is most likely that Indonesia has waived jurisdiction for Australia and therefore they can request extradition and, if they have enough evidence in support, should be granted.

Have you ever heard of the international criminal court, or the various United Nations Conventions on human rights, which have been ratified by virtually all of the developed world?

This High Court decision is offensive on every level. When justice is shown to be patently absurd then it just proves the lunatics are running the asylum, no pun intended.

There is no pun at all is there - intended or otherwise?