An Indonesian court last week sentenced what media described as a “people-smuggling kingpin” to six years in jail for organizing a mass invasion of fake asylum seekers to New Zealand in 2015.
According to reports, Abraham Louhenapessy, known as Captain Bram, was arrested in September in western Jakarta and was convicted by the Rote Ndao District Court on Rote, a remote island on the southern end of the Indonesian archipelago.
The judicial panel led by Hiras Sitanggang also ordered Louhenapessy to pay $53,650 to the state or serve six more months in prison.
“Based on the facts and evidence revealed during the trial, the defendant has been legally and convincingly found guilty of committing the smuggling of 65 migrants to New Zealand in 2015,” Sitanggang said.
He said the defendant had violated both the 2011 Law on Immigration and the Criminal Code.
Both the defendant and prosecutors, who sought a nine-year jail sentence, have not said whether they will appeal.
Prosecutors said Louhenapessy was paid $160,995 for the failed voyage, for which he bought a boat and found a crew to take the invaders from Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka to New Zealand.
The Australian navy stopped the boat as it passed through Australian waters. It was turned back to Indonesia, with the crewmen saying they were paid by Australian officials to return to Indonesia.
The ship’s captain and five crewmen were sentenced last year to jail terms ranging from 66 to 68 months.
Louhenapessy has been involved in smuggling more than 1,000 invaders to Australia since 1999. He was convicted and sentenced in a similar case in 2014.