Police are trying to overturn a court decision that said a man suspected of helping people smugglers should not be extradited to Australia to face charges there.
The boat of asylum seekers that Maythem Kamil Radhi is claimed to have been involved with sank in October 2001 in rough seas off the coast of Indonesia and more than 350 drowned.
Radhi came to New Zealand in 2009 as a refugee but in 2011 a Brisbane court issued a warrant for his arrest.
The warrant alleges he helped facilitate the proposed entry into Australia and was reckless whether the asylum seekers had the lawful right to enter Australia.
The boat that was used was said to be just over 19m long and to have carried more than 400 people. Most on board drowned and a memorial to the 353 victims has been erected in Canberra.
Most were thought to be of Middle-Eastern origin and Radhi is alleged to have been present during negotiations over fares to travel on the ill-fated fishing vessel, and by controlling the movements and activities of passengers while they were in Indonesia, and helping them board.
A district court judge in Auckland decided in early 2012 that Radhi was eligible for surrender to Australian authorities. But a year later that decision was overturned in the High Court.
The police are appealing against that decision.
The issues before the Court of Appeal in Wellington today include whether the charge Radhi could face in Australia had a New Zealand equivalent with a maximum penalty of 12 months jail or more. Those conditions need to be met for Radhi to be eligible to be sent to Australia for trial.
- The Dominion Post