World Bulletin / News Desk
Relatives of dozens of asylum seekers who were killed in a shipwreck off Christmas Island in 2010 have launched a legal case against Australia.
About 50 asylum seekers, mostly from Iraq and Iran, died when their boat crashed into rocks near Christmas Island on 15 December 2010.
Coastguards rescued 42 survivors but up to 50 people are believed to have drowned.
Lawyer George Newhouse said that even though the government knew that people were at risk out at sea they did not do enough to prevent their deaths.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the lawsuit was "shameful".
Mr. Newhouse's aid in a statement that the government "knew, or should have known, that there were vulnerable men, women and children that were on the high seas".
Officials "took insufficient steps to look out for them", he said.
Mr. Morrison criticized the decision to bring the case as offensive.
"Sure, people have the right to bring cases to court - we are a free country - but they have to be accountable for the claims," he said.
"This is like someone who has been saved from a fire suing the firemen."
Australian jailed an Iranian people-smuggler for 14 years in 2012 for organizing asylum boats including the Christmas Island vessel.
An eight-month coroner's inquiry into the disaster blamed the people-smugglers for causing the crash.
But the coroner also criticized the government for not having adequate rescue facilities on the island.Last Mod: 17 Haziran 2014, 16:39