06 October 2011

Australian jailed for people-smuggling

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An Australian citizen has been sentenced to almost two years in jail in Indonesia for involvement in a people-smuggling operation.

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An Australian citizen has been jailed in Indonesia for an attempted people-smuggling operation.

An Indonesian court has sentenced Australian Heidar Ali to 20 months in jail at a trial for people-smuggling activity on Monday.  Ali, a former refugee from Iraq, was arrested in May on suspicions of aiding illegal entrants to Indonesia seeking to reach Christmas Island and apply for an Australian visa.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed the report and the identity of the defendant.

"On Monday 3 October 2011 an Australian citizen was found guilty of misusing his Indonesian visa under article 50 of Indonesia's immigration act," said a DFAT statement.

"Consular officials from the Australian embassy in Jakarta have been providing consular support, and will continue to do so".

Despite his sentence, Ali has denied the allegations, claiming he was trying to help two family members. Ali himself reached the Australian immigration detention centre at Christmas Island from Indonesia ten years ago before being granted refugee status and settling in Sydney.

The court indicated Ali would be eligible for release in January 2013.

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