Kupangt-The East Nusa Tenggara Police have brought criminal charges against three men who allegedly attempted to smuggle 13 Iraqi nationals into neighboring Australia in a failed sea crossing, an officer said on Tuesday.
The ship carrying the immigrants was intercepted and later destroyed by the Australian coastguard en route to Ashmore Reef -- which is located 111 kilometers south of East Nusa Tenggara’s Rote Island -- after all the occupants were moved to another vessel on December 12.
Australian authorities returned the three ship crew members and the immigrants to Rote Ndao district in East Nusa Tenggara to face the Indonesian justice system.
"The three ship crew members have been named suspects. There is an active investigation and another suspect identified as Hanafi Laduma remains at large," Rote Ndao Police spokesman First Sub-Inspector Anam Nurcahyo told Antara news agency.
The suspects in custody are identified by initials IP (29), AD (28), and RHG (30), all are natives of Papela Village in Rote. They are charged under the 2011 immigration law which carries the maximum punishment of 15 years in prison for people smuggling.
The 13 Iraqi nationals are currently being held at the immigration detention facility in the provincial capital of Kupang.
source: Three Ship Crew Members Named Suspects for Smuggling Iraqis to Australia (jakartaglobe.id)