A former asylum seeker who came to Australia by boat 12 years ago has been sentenced to three years and six months jail for helping others make the same journey, with a judge finding he was partly motivated by financial gain.
Nanjing Night Net

Fadhil Raghib Khana Zangan, 39, sat in the Downing Centre District Court with his head in his hands as Judge David Arnott sentenced him over six so-called “people smuggling” offences.

The court heard that the 39-year-old made the perilous journey to Ashmore Reef in 2001 after his family was deported from Iraq to Iran, and was eventually granted asylum-seeker status in Australia.

But between November 2011 and March 2012, he worked with four other men to “facilitate” the boat journeys of 10 asylum seekers from various countries in the Middle East to Australia on boats.

Judge Arnott said that the 39-year-old had played an “integral” role in the operation, arranging visas and accommodation for the asylum seekers – most of whom were his friends or distant relatives – and finding them places on boats travelling from Malaysia to Christmas Island.

During a sentencing submissions hearing earlier this month, Zangana said he had been motivated by “humanitarian and altruistic reasons”.

“He said it was because of his own experience of coming to Australia by boat and that he didn’t want them falling into the hands of crooked smugglers,” Judge Arnott said in his reasons for decision.

Zangana said that two of the people he helped – a mother and son – had had their home blown up by a suicide bomber, while another man was in danger because he had fought on the side of NATO forces during the Iraq war.

Judge Arnott found that Zangana had been partly motivated by altruism and took this into account as a mitigating factor.

However, he said that that the 39-year-old had also profited from his activities.

He referred to a number of deals in which Zangana appeared to personally receive thousands of dollars, and phone calls in which he repeatedly referred to his “customers”.

“I find that he acted from a combination of motives – both personal gain and altruism,” Judge Arnott said.

“His role was very integral to the operation … which necessarily involved putting lives at risk.”

His honour found that Zangana was a low risk of re-offending and had good prospects of rehabilitation. He also noted that the 39-year-old had suffered a significant personal tragedy, with his wife committing suicide in the family home in 2008.

He sentenced Zangana to a maximum sentence of five years and four months, with a minimum non-parole period of three years and six months.

With time served he will be eligible for release on April 19, 2016.

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