Four poverty-stricken Indonesian fishermen who brought asylum seekers to Australia on dilapidated wooden fishing boats have been jailed for five years.
Ferry Irawan, 29, Sali, 45, Joko Sampurno, 23, and Anton Tambunan, 29, were tempted by promises of cash in return for transporting 74 Afghani, Kurdish and Iranian men, women and children from Indonesia to Australia, the Supreme Court in Brisbane was told on Friday.
They each pleaded guilty to bringing non-citizens into Australia.
The court heard Tambunan, who earned just $20 a week in his home country, was paid only $300 to make the perilous journey.
The asylum seekers paid people smugglers in Indonesia and Afghanistan between $5000 and $15,000 for their place on a boat.
Prosecutor Glen Rice told the court Sali and Irawan were two of four crew members on a wooden boat that left Indonesia on January 21 last year.
It was intercepted near Ashmore Reef, off the northwestern coast of Australia, after 10 days at sea.
Sampurno and Tambunan were the only two crew members on board the second boat, which left Indonesia on February 20 last year.
It was intercepted near Christmas Island six days later.
The court heard both vessels were ill-equipped for the trip, with limited safety equipment, food and water.
One boat had only a compass and child’s atlas by way of navigational tools and was dangerously overcrowded.
The court was told the accused men had only limited schooling and were lured by the hope that the promised money would help them feed and care for their families.
The court heard general deterrence was an important sentencing factor, as 141 boats had been intercepted in Australian waters since January last year.
Justice John Byrne sentenced the men to the statutory minimum, as designated by the federal government, of five years’ jail.
The men will all be released after serving three years behind bars, when they will likely be deported.