Indonesia arrests alleged major people smuggler
JAKARTA/Sydney: Indonesian police have arrested an alleged people smuggler who has targeted Australia since 1999, Indonesian and Australian authorities said on Saturday.
Abraham Louhenapessy, also known as Captain Bram, was arrested in Jakarta before dawn on Friday, Indonesia's national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said.
"He allegedly helped to smuggle people into Indonesia and out of Indonesia by providing a ship and he was also the captain of that ship," he said.
The Australian Federal Police suspected Louhenapessy was "the boss" of traffickers who have smuggled people into Australia and New Zealand, Amar said.
Louhenapessy is currently in police custody in Jakarta, but will be transferred to East Nusa Tenggara in the south-west of Indonesia to face trial.
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said: "We know that Captain Bram is a key player in the people smuggling networks across Indonesia."
Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said he could face up to 10 years in prison.
"We are extremely pleased this notorious people smuggler has been stopped ... but we know there are more criminal people smugglers out there and we will continue to work with our regional partners to bring them to justice," Keenan said in a statement.
Louhenapessy was arrested over a failed attempt to send 65 mostly Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Australia from Indonesia in May 2015, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The Indonesian police confiscated Louhenapessy's documentation, including his passport, along with flight tickets to Thailand, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, France and the United Arab Emirates during the arrest, Amar said.
In its fight to stop people smugglers, Australia has adopted a tough asylum seeker policy which sees it intercept boats at sea and send the occupants to Australian-funded detention camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. They are never eligible to be resettled in Australia.
The United Nations and human rights groups have called for the closure of the camps, which have been rocked by riots, deaths, self-harm by detainees and reports of sexual abuse.