ROTE NDAO, Indonesia – The captain of a people smuggling boat who says he was paid by Australian authorities to return the migrants to Indonesia has described a terrifying ordeal on the voyage back.
The Indonesian captain, Johanes Humiang, said in an interview Wednesday that Australian authorities seized the boat and transferred the crew and 65 migrants to two smaller vessels with insufficient fuel and food.
The allegation of payments to people-smugglers has strained relations between Indonesia and Australia, which has a policy of turning back migrants who arrive by boat.
Humiang, who has been arrested by Indonesian police, said the money paid to him and the crew was double what they would have earned if their boat wasn't intercepted.
Australia's prime minister has sidestepped questions about the incident.