Indonesian police insisted Australian authorities paid the crew of a people-smuggling boat US$31,000 to turn back, displaying thousands of US dollars as proof, reports said yesterday.
West Timor police also claimed the 65 asylum seekers and six Indonesian crew were placed onto two wooden boats for the return trip, with one running out of fuel and the other crashing on a reef before making land.
“We have given you the evidence,” General Endang Sunjaya told the Sydney Morning Herald, which ran a front page image of him displaying a photograph of US$100 notes. “It’s now up to you and other organisations to demand an answer from the Australian government.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing intense pressure over the alleged payments, which he has refused to confirm or deny, saying he does not comment on operational matters.
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