An Iraqi has appeared in a Brisbane court, accused of attempting to smuggle hundreds of illegal immigrants into Australia two years ago. Khaleed Daoed was extradited from Sweden to face 12 charges, including people trafficking and money laundering.
Australian authorities have linked Khaleed Daoed to the deaths of 353 people aboard the SIEV-X, which sank north of Australia in October 2001. The federal government alleges that Mr. Daoed helped organize that ill-fated voyage. He also is suspected of helping arrange another boat, which brought 147 illegal migrants to Australia.
Magistrates in a Brisbane court on Friday ordered him held until December. He was extradited from Sweden, where he was arrested in May.
Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison says the extradition was the result of a "long and successful investigation" by federal police and the government's People-Smuggling Strike Team.
Mr. Daoed was handcuffed and appeared visibly shaken, when he appeared in court. He did not enter a plea to the charges, which carry jail sentences of up to 20 years.
He is accused of working with another suspected people-trafficker, Abu Quassey, whom Australia is trying to have extradited from Egypt.
Abu Quassey is being prosecuted in Cairo for allegedly organizing vessels to take illegal migrants to Australia.
To stem the flow of illegal migrants, the Australian government has strengthened its maritime border security.
Up to 12,000 refugees are resettled in Australia every year as part of official humanitarian programs. The conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard, however, has tried to deter asylum seekers from slipping into the country illegally. Those who do arrive illegally are held in detention until their asylum claims are processed, which can take well more than a year.