Hghest court rules Australia acted legally when it held 157 Sri Lankans at sea

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CANBERRA, Australia — Australia's highest court has ruled that the government acted legally when it held 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers at sea for almost a month last year.

The High Court reached a majority decision on Wednesday to reject a claim for damages for false imprisonment by one of the ethnic Tamils held aboard the Australian customs vessel.

Lawyers for the Sri Lankans had hoped that a win would have also challenged the legality of the Australian policy of turning back asylum seeker boats to Indonesia.

The 157 Tamil men, women and children had left the southeast Indian port of Pondicherry in an Indian-flagged ship in late June and were intercepted by the customs vessel.

They are new in detention on the Pacific island nation on Nauru.

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