The State News Agency Antara reports that the Bali police successfully thwarted an effort to smuggle more than 50 people originating from the Middle East to Australia via Bali and Madura.
"The were 52 immigrants from the Middle East who we taken into custody near Kubu, Karangasem on Saturday night, February 20th," said the director of the Bali Water Police, Agus Doeta Supranggono.
The water police were on a routine marine patrol off the coast at Kubu when at 6:30 pm a suspicious boat normally used for transporting timber came under their scrutiny. A boarding party discovered that the vessel was carrying the refugees headed for Australia via Indonesia. The foreign passengers carried no identity papers causing the officers to take control of the ship and its human cargo pending further investigation.
Police later learned that the group boarded the motor boat KM Bunga in Sumenp on the island of Madura captained by Adi, its 22-year-old captain from East Lombok. The youthful captain now faces a possible sentence of five years in prison for his role in attempting to participate in a people smuggling operation.
The illegal immigrant were eventually disembarked from the boat by police and brought to an immigration detention facility in Bali's capital of Denpasar. All 52 passengers, comprised of 50 Afghans and 2 Iranians, are said to be in good health.
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