Sat, Jan 21, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Sydney race riot investigator fired

AP , SYDNEY

The police officer in charge of investigating race riots that rocked Sydney last month was dumped yesterday for failing to release video footage of a man being attacked by a gang of youths of Middle Eastern appearance.

New South Wales state police chief Ken Moroney replaced Detective Superintendent Dennis Bray as head of the task force investigating the riots, saying he should have released the video earlier to help identify those involved.

"Clearly, there was material there that he could have been releasing and should have been releasing to the general community," Moroney told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

Hundreds of people -- both white and of Middle Eastern appearance -- already have been arrested and charged with involvement in three days of race-fueled violence in Sydney's southern beachside suburbs in December.

However, in recent days opposition lawmakers in New South Wales state have accused officers of going easy on youths from Middle Eastern backgrounds.

The calls intensified yesterday following the release of the videotaped beating.

"I think it's very important now that the government actually come clean with all that information that they have had for five weeks about the revenge attacks," state opposition leader Peter Debnam said yesterday, accusing the government of making Bray a scapegoat.

"The government can play all the games they like with the scapegoat they've thrown out today but we're going to remain focused on the issue," he said. "And the issue is resources and political commitment to lock up 200 Middle Eastern thugs."

The rioting began at a beach in the southern suburb of Cronulla on Dec. 11 when thousands of young men, many of them drunk, went on a rampage attacking youths of Middle Eastern appearance in retaliation for the beating a week earlier of two volunteer lifeguards.

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