- Push for Royal Commission into people-smuggler cash scandal
- Indonesian MP calls for Australia to abandon push-back policy
Rote Island: More than $US30,000 ($42,000) allegedly paid to people smugglers by Australian officials to return their boat to Indonesia will not be presented as evidence in the men's trial.
An Indonesian police investigation in June found six crew members had been paid between $US5000 and $US6000 to turn back 65 asylum seekers headed for New Zealand.
The prosecution had wanted to present "alleged bribery money from the Australian government" in court as further evidence of people-smuggling, but Prosecutor Alexander Sele said the police had insisted the crew had not committed a crime when they accepted the payments from the Australian officials.
Last week an Amnesty International report said all the available evidence pointed to Australian officials committing a transnational crime by, in effect, directing a people smuggling operation in May this year, paying a boat crew and then instructing them exactly where to land in Indonesia.
Captain Yohanis Humiang and five other crew members are facing charges of people smuggling that carry a minimum sentence of five years' jail and a maximum sentence of 15 years. Yohanis will be tried separately to the other five crew members.
Head judge Ary Wahyu Irawan adjourned the case until next Tuesday because the crew members did not have a lawyer.
Mr Sele said the crew members hired a lawyer during the police investigation, but could no longer afford one. "Now the judge will appoint one for them," he said.
The Amnesty report also said Border Force and navy officials put dozens of lives at risk by forcing asylum seekers onto poorly equipped vessels, one of which ran out of fuel necessitating a dangerous mid-sea transfer.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton described the report as an "ideological attack", but refused to identify what he thought was wrong with it.
Asked directly whether Australian officials made the cash payments, Mr Dutton said: "I don't have any further comment to make in relation to that matter."
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