The Perth Magistrates Court has grouped a 16-year-old boy to stand trial on charges of people smuggling with two men he has never met and who were not even on the same boat.
The boy told WA-based human rights activist Gerry Georgatos he was born in 1995. From a poor family, he was hired to fish on a boat going from Indonesia to Australia. He said the immigration department insisted he was born in 1991 on the basis of a wrist x-ray. They had not contacted his mother.
Senior lecturer in Medical Imaging at Curtin University Luke Barclay told the April 6 West Australian that wrist X-rays were not a fail-safe measure of a person's age.
"The approach is fraught with inaccuracies," he said.
The Perth Indonesian Vice Consul told Georgatos that her contact with the family confirmed to her he indeed was born in 1995. Where doubt exists regarding age, an age determination hearing should be pursued. Yet this has not been done.
One of the other men on trial is a Tamil who came here directly from Sri Lanka by boat. He had twice rejected the Sinhalese interpreter he was assigned, as the translation was inadequate.
He said a lot of what was said at his pre-trial hearing was incorrect, but was told there was no other interpreter available. He was learning English as fast as he could in prison so he could understand what was happening.
The trial is set for August 26.