11 Dec 2012

People-smuggling accused fights extradition

5:37 pm on 11 December 2012

A man accused of organising a people-smuggling boat that sank near Indonesia, killing hundreds of people, is fighting against extradition to Australia to face charges.

Lawyers for Maythem Radhi are appealing against the extradition in the High Court in Auckland, after a New Zealand judge ruled he could be surrendered to Australian authorities.

Mr Radhi, who was born in Iraq, is accused of helping arrange a people-smuggling boat that sank on its way to Christmas Island in 2001, killing more than 350 people. Earlier this year, a district court judge ruled that he could be extradited to Australia.

Mr Radhi's lawyer, Roger Chambers, told the High Court the allegations do not constitute an extradition offence. In Australia, the charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail. But Mr Chambers said under New Zealand law at the time of the alleged offences, the penalty was three months' imprisonment, or a fine. He said to be extradited, the charges must carry a penalty of more than a year in prison.

He said there is no evidence the boat even reached Australian waters.

The hearing was continuing.