News National Christmas Island detainees flown to prison as riot images emerge

Christmas Island detainees flown to prison as riot images emerge

Dept. of Immigration
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Seven men allegedly involved in a riot at the Christmas Island detention centre have been moved to Western Australia, as dramatic footage of damage to the facility emerges.

The images, video and drone footage showed fires burning, smashed windows and property destroyed inside the centre, during the riot which lasted nearly two days.

The men – who told the ABC they were from New Zealand – were all handcuffed, and claimed on Wednesday evening they were being transported to a prison in Perth.

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According to the Immigration Department, a “major disturbance” occurred at the centre after the death of refugee Fazal Chegeni on the island, made public on Monday.

The detainees arrived at Perth International Airport just after 5:00pm (WST) on Wednesday and were due to be transferred to a prison.

Scroll down to see images and vision of the damage

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the “extreme-risk” men were being moved to a correctional facility in Western Australia.

“They are among a group of extreme-risk individuals who are alleged to have been involved in the disturbance at the centre,” Mr Dutton said.

“The detainees are travelling on a charter flight accompanied by security officers. Restraints are used where appropriate for the safety and security of detainees, staff and the aircraft.”

Mr Dutton earlier defended detaining New Zealand citizens in the Christmas Island centre.

He denied New Zealanders convicted of only minor offences had been locked up on Christmas Island, saying the Maori Party was making inaccurate claims.

“Nobody is jailed for 12 months for shoplifting and it defies common sense, so I think people should frankly stick to the facts and I think we’d have a better debate,” he said.

However, the Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox argued some New Zealanders inside the centre had been convicted of only minor crimes.

One detainee appears to throw a dangerous weapon, another holds a machete. Photo: Dep. of Immigration.
One detainee appears to throw a dangerous weapon, another holds a machete. Photo: Dep. of Immigration

“These are people who have served their time for the various criminal offences that under this new law could range from shoplifting and also traffic violations, all the way up to serious crimes,” Ms Fox told AM.

“A one-year jail term, as I’ve already mentioned, includes people who may be shoplifters, who might have had traffic violations.”

Mr Dutton rejected those claims, saying the majority of the 200 detainees on Christmas Island were “hardened criminals”.

Ms Fox said the detainees were frustrated at how long it was taking to decide on appeals against deportation.

She said the uncertainty over the length of detention could have fanned the unrest at the centre, which saw five detainees injured and an expected $1 million in damage.

She later said on ABC’s Lateline that the policy “was putting the Anzac spirit at risk”.

On Tuesday, Mr Dutton emphasised the criminal element of detainees involved in the standoff with staff, which followed the death of Iranian refugee Fazal Chegeni.

Mr Chegeni was found to be a refugee but was convicted of assaulting another detainee at the Curtin detention centre.

His supporters said he lived in the community in Melbourne for a time before ending up on Christmas Island.

On Wednesday afternoon the Immigration Department released images and footage of damage to the Christmas Island detention centre.

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***all photos, vision via Department of Immigration and Border Protection

– with ABC


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