Lindsay Murdoch
April 4, 2011
PEOPLE smugglers have duped 128 Afghan asylum seekers by dropping them off at a tiny Indonesian island they were told was Australia’s Ashmore Reef.

The smugglers were long gone by the time the asylum seekers discovered yesterday they were on N’Dao, Indonesia’s closest island to Australia, about 50 kilometres from Ashmore Reef.

This is the fourth time smugglers have dropped asylum seekers on the island after telling them they had reached Australia.
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In October 2009 Indonesian police rounded up 22 Afghan asylum seekers who were hiding on the island after being left there by smugglers. The men were furious after giving their life savings to the smugglers.

Smugglers and Indonesian crew on asylum seeker boats face mandatory jail sentences of up to 20 years if they are caught in Australian territorial waters.

Even Indonesian crewmen who were themselves duped by ruthless criminal networks organising the boats are being sentenced to a minium five years jail in Australia.

Indonesian police have taken the 128 Afghan men by boat to Rote Island. They will be transferred to Kupang in West Timor.

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