Archive footage of officials approaching boat of asylum seekers
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Australia admits returning asylum seekers at sea

Australia has acknowledged it has returned 41 asylum seekers to the Sri Lankan authorities at sea.

Rights groups had raised concerns that more than 200 Sri Lankans may have been handed over earlier, including Tamils who say they face persecution at home.

Critics have questioned the government's claim that asylum applications were processed at sea.

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says the admission will raise the question of what happened to a second boat, thought to be carrying more than 150 refugees, which was reported to have been intercepted in recent days.

  • 07 Jul 2014
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