17 Jun 2015

Photos reveal people smuggling cash - police

9:42 am on 17 June 2015

Police in Indonesia have revealed photographs they say show thousands of US dollars that was paid to people smugglers by Australian officials.


Photo: Supplied

Police chief of Nusa Tenggara Timur province Endang Sunjaya said the money was given to six crew members who have sworn under oath that they were paid $US5000 each to return to Indonesia.

The pictures of $US100 bills were released to Fairfax Media in Australia.

The alleged payment took place on Andika, near Greenhill Island in the Northern Territory, and crew members' accounts were corroborated by asylum seekers, Mr Sunjaya said.

"We have given you the evidence. It's now up to you and other organisations to demand an answer from the Australian government," General Endang told Fairfax Media.

He said the 65 asylum seekers, who were headed for New Zealand, were sent on their way on two boats with just a drum of fuel each.

They eventually hit a reef near Landu island, in West Rote, where they were rescued by villagers.

General Endang said the police investigation report had been handed to National Police headquarters in Jakarta.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was "absolutely confident" Australian agencies had acted within the law at all times, but would not comment on the specifics.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says Labor governments never paid people smugglers to turn boats around, but refused to say whether the practice was used on land in Indonesia.

Australian Federal Police were also considering whether the alleged payments warrant investigation.


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