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Iraqi Man Arrested In Australia Over People-Smuggling Deaths

Police in Australia have arrested an Iraqi man for his alleged part in organizing a people-smuggling operation that resulted in the deaths of more than 350 asylum seekers when their boat sank in 2001.

In a statement issued on October 19, police said the 43-year-old man was taken into custody at Brisbane Airport late on October 18 following his extradition from New Zealand.

The suspect has been charged with "organizing groups of noncitizens to Australia," and could face a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Police claim he was a part of a syndicate that organized people smuggling, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Australia. He is the third suspect to face court in the case.

"Let's not lose sight of the fact that more than 350 people died in this tragedy," the police cited Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw as saying in the statement.

"They are owed justice and we remain committed to deterring those who profit from this trade."

Based on reporting by AP and dpa