An Afghan man who arranged for the travel of over 200 refugees and asylum seekers by boat to Western Australia, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail, local media said on Friday.
Sayed Abbas, 35, was pivotal in organising the transport of the asylum seekers coming from Indonesia on three overcrowded boats in 2009 and 2011.
He had taken payments ranging from 5,000 Australian dollars (3,900 dollars) to 10,000 dollars from each person.
According to Australian Associated Press, the Western Australia district court in Perth sentenced Abbas to 12 years in jail.
Since Abbas has already served an extensive amount of time in prison, he could be freed next year on parole. He was imprisoned in Indonesia before being extradited to Australia in 2015.
On Friday, his lawyer read out a letter sent by Abbas, who is illiterate and had to ask another inmate to write for him, in the court that described his desperate life in Afghanistan.
Abbas said that he had no job prospects and had to flee the Taliban.
The court also heard thay he lived in a refugee camp for five years.
He had endured torture while incarcerated in Indonesia and now suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I have been punished more than most in my circumstance,’’ he said.
Judge Andrew Stavrianou said the offences Abbas committed were clearly serious and a violation of Australia’s sovereignty.
He said Abbas was motivated by financial gain and was prepared to run the risk of punishment.
“His crimes put the lives and safety of those on board at risk,’’ the judge said. (dpa/NAN)