Cambodia, Australia Target Smugglers
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) _ In separate moves against human traffickers, a court in Cambodia ordered the deportation of four foreigners and Australian authorities said they were going to request the extradition from Thailand of an important smuggler.
In Cambodia, a municipal court on Wednesday ordered the deportation of four men who allegedly tried to transport a boatload of 253 asylum seekers to Australia and New Zealand
Prosecutor Sok Roeun said the four men _ two Pakistanis, an Afghan and an Indonesian _ were convicted of illegal entry during a trial on Tuesday. They were arrested in July after a ship illegally carrying Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Indonesians was intercepted by police off the coast near the city of Sihanoukville.
The men are: Pakistanis Naeem Ahmad Chodri, 33, and Barkat Ali, 28; Afghan Hammad Wali, 37; and Indonesian Abraham Louhenpessy, 41.
Cambodia, with a weak and corrupt legal system, has in recent years become a transit point for trafficking of other Asians to the West, Australia or New Zealand.
In Australia, the government said Wednesday that it was preparing to request the extradition of a Pakistani man arrested in Thailand on suspicion of organizing the smuggling of 400 illegal immigrants to Australia.
Customs and Justice Minister Sen. Chris Ellison said Hasan Ayoub was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday. Ayoub is wanted in Australia for allegedly arranging to smuggle two boatloads of unlawful citizens from Indonesia between December last year and April this year.
In the past year some 5,000 asylum seekers, mostly from the Middle East and South and Central Asia, have been stopped trying to enter Australia by boat from Indonesia with the help of people smuggling gangs.