Racist email scandal hits Oz police

Last Updated: Saturday, October 9, 2010 - 11:45

Melbourne: In a shocking incident, top Australian police officers have been caught in a racist e-mail scandal joking about the electrocution of an Indian train passenger and suggesting that it could be "a way to fix the Indian student problem" in Melbourne.

The police officers of the Australian state of Victoria circulated sickening video footage showing the death of the man, who was travelling on the roof of a crowded train in
India, `The Herald Sun` reported today.

When the train stopped at a station the man stood up and touched an overhead power cable. Onlookers screamed as he was electrocuted, showed the clip contained in one of the offending e-mails.

The e-mail containing the shocking video began circulating in the Victoria Police computer system and racist comments were added, suggesting "this might be a way to fix
the Indian student problem".

The paper said it has discovered some of the force`s highest-ranked officers have been implicated in the scandal, which also involves pornographic material.

Three superintendents were nabbed during an investigation into the circulation of inappropriate e-mails through the police computer system and several inspectors have also been caught, the report said.

E-mails probed by the Ethical Standards Department`s (ESD`s) Operation Barrot contain pornographic, homophobic, racist and violent material.

Reacting to the scandal, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland described the e-mails as "disturbing, offensive and gross".

The scandal involving "sick" Victorian police officers came at a time when the force`s command was trying to ease racial tension after a number of assault cases involving
Indian students living in Melbourne.

Victorian Premier John Brumby criticised the actions of the police who circulated the racist material.

"This is completely offensive and contrary to the views and values at the heart of the Victorian community – tolerance and respect," he said.

A police spokesman said the e-mails were offensive. "These are matters which demanded we took action. Some of the content was extremely offensive and we can`t tolerate that
within the ranks of Victoria Police," he said.

Federation of Indian Students spokesman Gautam Gupta said he was appalled. "It is outrageous that police officers would joke about the death of anyone. I am really shocked. This is humour in very, very bad taste," he was quoted as saying.

None of the superintendents or inspectors caught during the sweep have been interviewed by ESD yet, the paper said, adding it believes it has been unofficially suggested to two
long-serving superintendents that they should retire as soon as possible to avoid disciplinary action.

A sergeant, two leading senior constables and a senior constable have already been sacked and six other low-ranking police have been demoted or fined.

Healesville sergeant Tony Vangorp took his life in March after being suspended and being told he faced the sack over inappropriate e-mails, the report said.

Fifteen officers will be dealt with at disciplinary hearings in the next fortnight, it said.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, October 9, 2010 - 11:45

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