Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 14:43 UK

People smuggler crewed Tamil boat

Sri Lankan migrants in Indonesia
The migrants were hoping to make their way to Australia

A convicted people smuggler has been found among a boat-load of more than 250 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, Australia's foreign minister has said.

Stephen Smith said the people smuggler, Abraham Lauhenaspessy, also known as Captain Bram, had been arrested by Indonesian police.

The Sri Lankans, intercepted by Indonesia on their way to Australia, are currently being held in Java.

Captain Bram is believed to have smuggled 1,500 people into Australia.

He was arrested in 2007 in Indonesia after a joint Australian-Indonesian operation and sentenced to two years in jail.

"He is well known to Australian and Indonesian authorities," said Mr Smith.

The news of his latest arrest came as another boat carrying suspected asylum seekers was picked up heading to Australia - the third in as many days.

Hunger strike

The 254 Sri Lankans, who are all ethnic Tamils, have ended a hunger strike staged to highlight their plight but are still refusing to leave their boat.

They have agreed to meet with representatives of the UN's refugee agency.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said their individual cases should be processed by the United Nations.


He and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith are in Jakarta for the inauguration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono and for talks that will include people smuggling.

There has been a tenfold increase this year in the number of asylum seekers reaching Australian waters, and the opposition blames the government for relaxing its refugee laws.

A spokesman for the Tamil asylum seekers said Captain Bram had betrayed his passengers after missing a rendez-vous with a smaller boat that was to have taken him back to Indonesia.

He insisted on turning back to Indonesia after nearing the Australian territory of Christmas Island to avoid being detained by Australian authorities, the spokesman, Alex, said.

The boat was then intercepted by the Indonesian navy on 11 October following a personal plea from Mr Rudd to Mr Yudhyono.

The Tamils were reported to have paid $15,000 (£9,200) each for their transport.

Print Sponsor

Australia PM unmoved by refugees
16 Oct 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia PM seeks migrant help
13 Oct 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Asylum for boat-explosion Afghans
12 Oct 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia PM furious at smugglers
17 Apr 09 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia probes Afghan killings
27 Oct 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia abandons asylum policy
29 Jul 08 |  Asia-Pacific

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific