SYNDEY, Australia (Aug. 20)
Six white supremacists are on trial on Perth, Western Australia, for attempting to establish a Nazi-style regime by means of terrorism, harassment and race riots.
The accused, members of the Australian Nationalist Movement, planned to “drive foreigners, primarily Asians and Jews” out of Australia, according to the testimony of prosecution witnesses, most of them disaffected former members of the neo-Nazi group.
They have been variously charged on 194 counts, including the firebombing of five Chinese restaurants, possession of explosives and robbery.
The one charge applicable to all six is conspiracy to threaten and harm Asians living in Western Australia, with intent to drive them out.
The group’s paramilitary headquarters outside Perth had a rifle range, underground bunkers and protective sandbagging.
Prosecutor Graeme Scott presented evidence of sophisticated raids on selected restaurants, including the use of stolen police scanners and two-way radios to evade arrest.
The chief prosecution witness, Russell Willey, provided details of secret weapons caches and planned raids on police stations.
Willey, former treasurer of the Australian Nationalist Movement, identified the group’s leader as Jack Van Tongeren, who he said almost burned himself to death in a gasoline bomb attack on a Chinese restaurant.
The trial of the neo-Nazis in Perth has renewed impetus for state governments to enact effective anti-racist laws. There are none, for example, in South Australia.
In New South Wales, however, taxi driver Robert Leys, 47, had his license suspended after the media reported he played Nazi marches on his car cassette, dressed in pseudo-Nazi uniforms and described himself as a minister in the “Church of the Creator,” a U.S.-based white supremacist movement.
The Church of the Creator operates out of Otto, N.C., under the direction of Ben Klassen, and is “a Hitler-worshiping group that has gained a new following in the United States among racist Skinheads,” according to Leonard Zeskind, research director of the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal.
(JTA staff writer Susan Birnbaum in New York contributed to this report.)