25 Jun 2013

People smuggler filmed at work

6:09 am on 25 June 2013

New video footage has emerged of an Indonesian people smuggler admitting involvement in a fatal boat sinking last year, and describing asylum seekers as "goats".

ABC News has obtained videos of a people smuggler called Freddy Ambon, trying to convince asylum seekers he can get them to Christmas Island safely.

But he also admits involvement in the tragic sinking of a boat in June last year, that is understood to have killed as many as 96 asylum seekers. Ambon describes that as a one-off problem.

Two sources told the ABC the man is Ambon, a people smuggler known to police.

Posing as a broker for a fictitious group of clients, an Afghan asylum seeker calling himself Abbas, secretly shot four videos of Ambon last month.

"I will take care of the boat, the engine, get it overhauled everything, get the fuel loaded, okay, the supplies loaded, okay then the goats go. That's it," Ambon can be heard saying.

Abbas said he has lost two brothers on a boat organised by a people smuggler and wanted the deadly trade exposed.

He challenged Ambon about his safety record and in particular a boat that sank north of Christmas Island in June last year, killing up to 96 people.

Ambon admitted his involvement, but blames it on a Pakistani business partner.

"It was overloaded, so full," Ambon said. "I told him, 'don't put more passengers on', but he insisted. So it wasn't my fault. I did no wrong.

"I've never done that, bro. I always get them through. They get through, get through all the time ... so that problem ... happened in June last year."

Ambon said that to make it safer, he sends 50 people at a time and up to three boats a month and boasts about co-operation from Indonesian police.

"And then the police headquarters, the police HQ will escort the boat," he said. "Perhaps Irfan has told you I'm a former police officer? Don't ask which unit.

"I'm a former policeman, this is just for you to know. But it means there is no problem, bro. There is no problem, no problem, no problem. The passengers will get through."