Refugees blamed fornavy errors

February 20, 2010

Three Afghan refugees in Australia face possible charges over the explosion onboard a fishing boat off Ashmore Reef last April. Five were killed in the explosion and many more injured.

The boat, which was headed to Australia, exploded a day after the Australian navy boarded it to divert it to Christmas Island. Sections of the media made claims that refugees caused the explosion to prevent the boat being towed to Indonesia.

After a three-week inquest into the explosion, Northern Territory coroner Greg Cavanagh said he would refer the evidence to a criminal investigation.

"Then it would be up to the authorities as to what action they took", he said, reported the February 18 Sydney Morning Herald.

The inquest heard that navy errors most likely contributed to the deaths. Officers did not immediately provide life jackets to all asylum seekers and some refugees who tried to clamber aboard lifeboats were forced off by navy personnel. Despite the findings, the coroner made no specific recommendations to the Australian Defence Force.

The 42 survivors were granted refugee status and permanent protection visas in October.

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.