Australian migration detention centre riot leaves massive bill

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Sydney (dpa) – The two-day riot at the Australian immigration detention centre on Christmas Island has left a 10-million-Australian-dollar (7.1-million-US-dollar) bill and seven inmates facing criminal charges.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Sydney radio Thursday there was extensive damage to the centre that could cost 10 million Australian dollars to repair and seven men were removed and flown to Perth to face criminal charges.

“These people will have to pay for the damage that they’ve caused through the courts,” Dutton said on radio 2GB. “We’re dealing with some of the country’s worst criminals.”

Dutton said five of the men facing charges were New Zealanders, one Tongan and one Afghan.

Australia’s immigration policy of deporting non-citizens convicted to more than 12 months in jail is causing resentment in New Zealand where some politicians have accused Australia of unfairly treating their people.

More than 200 New Zealanders, many of them Maoris who have lived in Australia for many years, are in jail or immigration detention facing being deported.

Dutton is standing by his department’s decision to revoke the visa and incarcerate a New Zealand Maori former distinguished soldier who was arrested for being a member of a biker gang when he visited a friend in jail.

Lance Corporal Ngati Konahi Haapu was decorated for his service in Afghanistan. He left the New Zealand army in 2012 and moved to Australia to work in the mines. Haapu has no criminal record, but still had his visa revoked on character grounds.

He was kept in solitary confinement in a Perth prison as he was deemed a security threat.

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