Indian journalist held in custody on smuggling charges
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — An Indian journalist charged with attempting to smuggle a group of his countrymen into Australia for the Commonwealth Games will spend at least six more weeks in custody after having his case adjourned on Friday.
Rakesh Kumar Sharma, who Indian media say is employed by a newspaper and based in Chandigarh, was charged with people smuggling and falsifying documents in late March after allegedly using fake media credentials for eight people, who were taken into immigration detention.
Sharma, 46, was remanded in custody in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday until his case resumes on June 22.
Court documents allege Sharma, who was not required to appear on Friday, arranged for the group, ages between 19 and 37, to come to Australia. He is also accused of filing a form he knew was forged or false, which would enable them to get visas to stay in Australia.
The maximum penalty for the offenses is 20 years in jail.
The Commonwealth Games were held on the Gold Coast south of Brisbane from April 4-15.