28 Oct 2012

Deported asylum seekers arrested

5:46 am on 28 October 2012

Police in Sri Lanka arrested 14 asylum seekers deported by Australia on Saturday. They were accused of theft, abduction and attempted murder.

Fifteen Sri Lankans were picked up by Australia on Thursday northwest of the Cocos Islands in a boat apparently stolen from its owner in Sri Lankan waters two week ago. AAP reports Canberra sent 14 of them back on Saturday.

Police said they were arrested on arrival aboard a plane chartered by the Australian government.

Sri Lanka sought help from Interpol to track down the trawler Thejan after it was reportedly stolen by its own crew in a bid to transport asylum-seekers to Australia.

A magistrate issued arrest warrants against the skipper and 13 others who staged the hijacking to try to cover up the boat's theft.

Two of the six crewmen were later found wounded and bobbing in the water off Sri Lanka's southern coast. They gave conflicting accounts of the events and are being detained for questioning.

Sri Lankan has reportedloy detained more than 1000 people trying to leave for Australia illegally this year.