PM pressured to cancel boat blast trio visas
By online political correspondent Emma Rodgers
Updated Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:14am AEDT
Deadly: five asylum seekers died after an explosion ripped through the boat last year (Australian Defence Force)
The Federal Government is under pressure to say whether it will revoke the visas of three Afghan men who may face charges over a boat explosion which killed five asylum seekers.
But the Government says it will not take any action unless charges are laid.
The asylum seekers died after an explosion ripped through the boat – known as SIEV 36 – on April 16 last year. Defence Force personnel were also on board the vessel.
On Wednesday the Northern Territory coroner named Arman Ali Brahimi, Glulam Mohammadi and Sabzali Salman as being part of a plan to disable the boat.
Coroner Greg Cavanagh found that crimes may have been committed in relation to the explosion, which occurred off Australia's north-west coast, and has referred his findings to the police and the DPP.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has demanded Prime Minister Kevin Rudd explain whether the Government will cancel the men's visas.
“Will he now revoke the visas of those passengers, who according to the coroner were found … to be involved in a plan to set fire to the vessel?” he said.
Mr Rudd told Parliament the Government must wait until any decisions are made by police.
“It's important to proceed cautiously on public comments on a matter that has been referred to the relevant authorities,” he said.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland warned the Opposition against making any comments that may prejudice the investigation.
“In circumstances where three individuals are potentially facing criminal prosecutions as a result of the death of five individuals and the serious injury of others it is, with the greatest respect, quite outrageous for politically motivated comments to be made,” he said.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans said he found the coroner's report “disturbing” but the visas were originally granted in accordance with the law.
He reiterated he would not consider their status until charges were laid.
Defence Minister John Faulkner praised the actions of ADF personnel who were on board at the time of the explosion, but noted the coroner had found there were deficiencies in the way they boarded the boat.
“There is no doubt this was a terrible tragedy,” he said.
“This month I'll be visiting Border Protection Control in Darwin for the specific purpose of seeing firsthand the practices and procedures they follow in boarding [vessels],” he said.
Tags: government-and-politics, federal-government, crime, darwin-0800
First posted Wed Mar 17, 2010 6:00pm AEDT
Video: Inquest discovers asylum seeker sabotage (7pm TV News NSW)
Map: Darwin 0800
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