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Asylum-seekers 'force' Singapore ship to Australia

Published on Aug 16, 2012 4:50 PM
 
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard inspects a sound studio in Sydney in this July 24, 2012 file photo. She conceded that if there had been "a breach of any relevant laws then of course it has to be properly investigated", but said the "time for political argy-bargy" on the boatpeople issue had passed. -- PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - A boatload of asylum-seekers picked up by a Singaporean merchant vessel after a distress call were on Thursday accused of acting like pirates after forcing the captain to take them to Australia.

The Singapore-flagged MV Parsifal picked up the 67 asylum-seekers from a people-smuggling ship off the Indonesian island of Java on Monday in response to a distress call relayed by Australian authorities.

It intended to continue on to Singapore with the group but Canberra's Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said they became "very aggressive" when learning of the plan and insisted he take them to Australia's Christmas Island.

"The master of the ship made the decision to turn the vessel around and head to Christmas Island," Mr Clare told ABC radio.

 
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