Algerian attempting to swim from Timor Leste to Australia to be sent home

  • ASEAN+
  • Tuesday, 28 Jan 2020

H. Abdel Rahman (centre) is questioned by Atambua immigration officers in Belu, East Nusa Tenggara. - Atambua-Immigration-Office

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN): An Algerian national recently found adrift in the Timor Sea after attempting to swim to Australia from Timor Leste is to be sent back to his home country, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) authorities have confirmed.

The foreigner, identified as H. Abdel Rahman, is currently being held at the Atambua Immigration Office in Belu regency, NTT, where he has been detained since he was rescued by local fishermen in the waters of Malaka regency earlier this month.

“We are corresponding with the Algerian Embassy in Jakarta to return Abdel Rahman to Algeria. Our letter has been responded to by the Algerian ambassador and Abdel Rahman’s lost citizenship documents are now being processed," Atambua Immigration head Halim told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Halim confirmed that Rahman was being detained at the immigration office because he was guilty of an immigration violation by entering Indonesian territory without valid documents. The Algerian will be detained there for a month before being deported or transferred to the immigration detention centre in Kupang, he added.

Rahman made news on Jan 12 after he attempted to swim to Australia in a desperate attempt to flee Timor Leste after his visa had expired and his funds were depleted.

Before visiting Timor Leste, Rahman landed at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on Dec 12 last year, Halim said.

After vacationing on the tourist island for a few days, Rahman travelled to Gili Trawangan in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, by boat.

“After a week in Lombok, Abdel Rahman continued onto Labuan Bajo in NTT and then to Kupang. After arriving in Kupang on Dec 30, he took a Trans Nusa plane to Dili in Timor Leste, ” Halim said.

The Algerian reported to Timor Leste authorities in Suai district regarding his visa, but got no response.

"Then he desperately started swimming to Australia from Suai Beach at around 6pm Timor Leste time. Before swimming, he threw away all of his documents at Suai, ” Halim said, adding that Rahman was later carried away by big waves and bad weather in the sea.

After two days of swimming, Rahman was exhausted and screamed for help from nearby fishermen, who rescued him and took him to a beach in Kletek village, Malaka regency, where the waters border Indonesia, Timor Leste and Australia, on Jan 12.

“Atambua immigration officers took custody of him and interrogated him before eventually detaining him while waiting for news concerning his deportation from the Algerian Embassy, ” Halim said.

Meanwhile, Betun Police chief, Adj Sr Comr Albert Neno, said Rahman's statement to the police was being examined as there were doubts about whether he really did try to swim to Australia, especially as the waters were rough.

Albert -- who claimed he had received a tip-off – voiced suspicion that Rahman had boarded a ship from Timor Leste to Australia but had been thrown overboard after it was discovered that he could not pay for his journey.

“We are investigating [the case]. Who knows whether he actually boarded a ship but was thrown into the sea because he could not pay for the ticket?" Albert said, adding that the police were also investigating whether Rahman had travel companions who had made it from Timor Leste to Australia. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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Algerian , Timor Lest , Australia , swim


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