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15 more Australian cops face probe over racist emails

world Updated: Oct 11, 2010 21:32 IST

At least 15 more Australian police officers will be probed over circulation of racist and pornographic emails, including one ridiculing the death of an Indian that sparked a diplomatic row, prompting authorities to sack four officers.

Australian authorities sacked four Victorian police officers, demoted one and imposed fine against five Sunday, a day after India lodged a diplomatic protest over the circulation of an email in which the officers cracked joke on a video showing electrocution of man travelling on the roof of a train in India.

According to Australian news agency AAP, Victoria Police Monday said another fifteen officers would face hearings this month. Nine of them will be probed this week Tuesday and Friday and six will face hearings next week.

Victoria Police have launched an investigation into the circulation of racist and pornographic emails early this year, much before the news came about this week's email with a video showing electrocution of an Indian.

Of those already punished, two have quit the job and in March, Healesville Sergeant Tony Vangorp resigned and took his own life after the probe, the report said. Five of those disciplined in the August hearings are appealing the decisions against them. Their appeals are yet to be heard.

The latest email was sent with a police officer's message saying this could be a way to "fix" Melbourne's Indian student problem.

The email came after a spate of violent assaults against Indian and the killing of 21-year-old student Nitin Garg in January, sparking concern over the safety of Indian students in Australia.

India's ministry of external affairs summoned Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese and handed over a demarche Saturday.

The Australian high commissioner also condemned the incident and handed over copies of the statements made by the premier of Victoria and the chief commissioner of the Victoria Police.

Varghese told reporters in New Delhi that the incident has been "condemned in the strongest possible terms".

"This is an email which is offensive and unacceptable," he said, adding that it was "completely contrary to the principles of respect and tolerance which underpinned Australian society".

Chief Commissioner Simon Overland said the emails were "disturbing" and "offensive".

Victoria Premier John Brumby Friday said: "This is completely offensive and contrary to the views and values at the heart of the Victorian community - tolerance and respect."