A New Zealand resident has been extradited to Australia to face trial over the deaths of more than 350 people in 2001.

Maythem Kamil Radhi was allegedly involved in the smuggling of a boatload of people from Indonesia before it sank, resulting in the humanitarian disaster.

The Australian government had spent years trying to extradite the 43-year-old Iraqi man before he was arrested on arrival at Brisbane Airport yesterday.

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In court, police will allege he took payments from passengers and facilitated transportation and accommodation before the journey to Australia.

Radhi was arrested and charged by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and appeared at Brisbane Magistrates Court today.

He was remanded in custody to reappear in court on October 31, 2019.

Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Justice Minister Andrew Little. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In December 2017, Radhi avoided extradition to Australia following a ruling in the Supreme Court after his appeal was accepted.

The court said he faced "extraordinary circumstances" and the case was referred to the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, to review.

Throughout 2018, the minister consulted with Radhi's counsel and both Australian and New Zealand immigration authorities about the Iraqi's situation.

The court was concerned Radhi would be left in limbo as a consequence of Australian laws and his immigration status in New Zealand.

"I understand Mr Radhi surrendered himself to New Zealand authorities on Thursday and was escorted to Australia by AFP officers yesterday," Little said.

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"The charges Mr Radhi faces are serious, relating to people trafficking and the deaths of hundreds of people at sea.

"For the sake of the victims, it was the responsible thing to do to ensure everything that could be done was done to ensure he answered the charges."

The decision to extradite Radhi was made recently, Little added.

Radhi was allegedly part of a syndicate which organised the transportation of people on a fishing boat known as Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel (SIEV) X.

Two other men had already faced court in Australia following their role in the 2001 venture, AFP reported.

The vessel sank in international waters on October 19, 2001, and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.

Radhi was also charged with organising groups of non-Australian citizens into the country - the offence could result in 10 years in prison.

Maythem Radhi had been fighting a legal battle over attempts to extradite him to Australia. Photo / AFP
Maythem Radhi had been fighting a legal battle over attempts to extradite him to Australia. Photo / AFP

The arrest of Radhi was a demonstration the AFP would never waver its commitment to bring smugglers to justice, Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.

"Let's not lose sight of the fact that more than 350 people died in this tragedy.

"They are owed justice and we remain committed to deterring those who profit from this trade."

Radhi was living in Indonesia at the time of the sinking, having arrived there in March 2000.

He was subsequently recognised as a refugee under religious persecution grounds by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Radhi was also put forward for inclusion in New Zealand's annual quota intake of refugees and it was granted in March 2009.

His wife and two children were also granted refugee status and upon arrival, Radhi was granted a residence permit.

In October 2010, Australian authorities submitted an extradition request to New Zealand and in 2011 Radhi was arrested.