Fri, 18 May 2001

Illegal foreigners held in Makassar

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi: Makassar Port Police arrested some 70 illegal immigrants from India, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Tunisia on Wednesday for illegally entering the country.

The group was arrested aboard KM Lambelu, which had shipped them from Jakarta and Surabaya, East Java.

Police also detained an Indonesian named Ali who initially claimed to be a member of the Police Mobile Brigade.

Upon further interrogation Ali eventually claimed he worked for Mustafa Ali who is believed to be a wanted fugitive.

One of the detained illegal immigrants, Yasser from Iraq, said Ali had asked them to pay US$1,000 per person to be taken to Australia.

The head of Makassar Immigration Office, Dodi Wibowo, said the immigrants were supposed to be taken to Bau Bau, Southeast Sulawesi before crossing to Australia.

"But their behavior was suspicious, so we checked them out," he said.

Dodi said that the 70 illegal immigrants will be released after an official from the Jakarta office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees picks them up. (30)