Subject: Sri Lankans, Indonesians Wanted to Reach Australia: East Timor [+Alleged People Smuggler Appears in Court]

also: Alleged people smuggler appears in court

Sri Lankans, Indonesians wanted to reach Aust: East Timor

DILI, Oct 20 AAP - Sixteen Sri Lankans and four Indonesians have been detained in East Timor over a plot to illegally sail to Australia, authorities said today.

The men were arrested in Betano village, on East Timor's south coast, while preparing to board an Indonesian fishing boat. Officials said the men had admitted they were planning to travel to Australia.

"Some of them say they (were trying to) enter Australia to look for jobs," said the deputy director of East Timor's immigration department, Boavida Ribeiro.

The Sri Lankans were believed to have entered East Timor overland from Indonesia, while the Indonesian's sailed the boat from Betun port, in West Timor, Ribeiro said.

"It was a small boat (and) in poor condition," he said.

Authorities in East Timor say they have not caught many people trying to travel to Australia illegally.

"(The last time) was in 2007 when we (detained) five people," Ribeiro said.

The men are being held in Dili's police watch house.

Authorities are unsure at this stage if the men are part of a wider people smuggling or trafficking operation.

The immigration department expects an investigation will be complete by the end of this week.

The International Office for Migration in East Timor said they have offered assistance to the group.


Alleged people smuggler appears in court

PERTH, Oct 20 AAP - A 58-year-old man accused of smuggling 17 people to Australia has been told he is "going nowhere" during a brief appearance in Perth Magistrates Court today.

The Australian Federal Police say Amos Ndolo was the captain of a vessel that arrived at an offshore storage rig in the Timor Sea on October 6.

It is alleged Ndolo was part of an attempted people smuggling operation from Indonesia and police charged him and two other crew of bringing 14 non-citizens into the country.

An Indonesian interpreter helped explain the proceedings to Ndolo, who was wearing a cream striped shirt with blue jeans.

"I've explained to him in brief terms the nature of the charge ... and the various reasons that he's not going anywhere today," lawyer Michael Parker told the court.

An Indonesian consular official was in attendance but afterwards identified himself only as an observer.

Ndolo faces a jail term of up to 20 years if convicted.

Another crew member who has been charged was to appear in the Perth Children's Court, while a third has not been charged because of lack of evidence, the AFP says.

On October 13, 35-year-old Indonesian Abdul Hamid faced the Perth Magistrates Court on similar charges of people smuggling.

Police allege Hamid captained a boat carrying 12 passengers that was intercepted by Border Protection Command near the Ashmore Islands on September 29.

He was also alleged to be part of a people smuggling operation that started in Indonesia.

Hamid has been remanded until October 24, while Ndolo will appear again in the same court on November 3.

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