An Indonesian court on Thursday rejected Australia’s request to extradite an Afghan man accused of smuggling asylum seekers to Australia in dozens of boats, including one involved in an accident that killed about 200 people.
In its ruling, a three-judge panel from the South Jakarta District Court said Sayeed Abbas should not be extradited to face trial in Australia because people smuggling is not included in the extradition treaty between the two countries. It also noted that Abbas is not accused of committing any crimes in Australia.
The panel ordered authorities to release Abbas from custody.
The 31-year-old Afghan is accused of arranging about 40 boats carrying hundreds of asylum seekers to Australia between 2009 and 2011, including one that capsized in December 2011, killing about 200 people.
He is wanted in Australia on 27 charges of people smuggling and could face a maximum of 20 years in prison if found guilty.
Abbas, who came to Indonesia from Afghanistan in 2001, has made three failed attempts to reach Australia by boat, and was sentenced to 2½ years in prison in 2011 for immigration law violations. He was released in January but was arrested again when the extradition process began.
He has repeatedly denied his involvement in people-smuggling activities.
Indonesia has long been a transit point for people fleeing war-ravaged countries on their way to Australia.