An Australian court sentenced a Sri Lanka-born refugee to more than five years in prison today for helping to smuggle nearly 200 asylum seekers to Australia in a leaky boat.
Sydney spice shop owner Pathmendra Pulendren, 36, pleaded guilty this month to acting as an agent for an Indonesia-based Sri Lankan who arranged the passage of 20 Tamil Sri Lankan men in a boat from Malaysia to Australia in June last year. Pulendren, who came to Australia by boat in 2007 as a Tamil asylum seeker, alerted police to the voyage when he discovered that 194 Tamils were to make it. People smuggling carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Pulendren must serve at least three years before he is eligible for parole.