Australia state police force rocked by coup plot
AUSTRALIA: Australia's second largest police force was in
turmoil on Friday after accusations of corruption at top levels and a
plot to oust its reformist commissioner and replace her with a "puppet".
Three senior officers in the Victoria state police face criminal
charges over leaks that compromised an investigation into a detective's
involvement in a 2003 murder.
A report by the Office of Police Integrity watchdog told of crime
ties and secret manoeuvres to oust Commissioner Christine Nixon, the
country's only female police chief, by the three, who include former
assistant commissioner Noel Ashby.
"I believe they will be charged," Nixon said on Friday after
describing how she felt "betrayed" by the revelations, gathered through
secret telephone intercepts. The issue has rocked government and the
public in Victoria's state capital Melbourne, Australia's second biggest
city, and prompted fresh accusations of widespread corruption.
The Victoria force is already tainted from allegations of police
links to a string of brutal tit-for-tat gangland killings that left 28
underworld members dead between 1998 and 2006.
The leaks, the OPI said, were done to discredit and remove Nixon
because of jealousy and ambition among her underlings.
Nixon had also infuriated the powerful police union chief Paul
Mullett with her drive to modernise the 13,600-strong force, which was
founded in 1853.
Mullett, who has pledged to fight the allegations, was accused with
Ashby and former police media director Stephen Linnell of engaging in
"betrayal, collusion, deceit and abuse of authority".
Mullett wanted a "puppet" commissioner he could control and was
"motivated to gain personal power", the OPI said.
"Sworn police with obligations to uphold the law were exposed as
individuals prepared to thwart the efforts of other police who were
discharging their duties in investigating serious crimes," the report
said. Canberra, Friday, REUTERS