Nationwide hunt for accused neo-Nazi
February 28, 2006
ACCUSED neo-Nazi leader Jack van Tongeren is again a fugitive, with police launching a nationwide manhunt after the 59-year-old skipped bail.
It has been seven days since Mr van Tongeren, due to face trial next month on charges of conspiring to firebomb Asian restaurants, went missing.
The former Australian Nationalists Movement leader turned himself in 18 months ago after a week hiding in the bush outside of Perth.
Last Monday, he failed to report to police, as required as a condition of his bail.
His former ANM sidekick Matthew Billing skipped bail the same day and police believe the pair are travelling together in a Toyota Hilux.
Mr van Tongeren’s lawyer, Geoff Vickridge, told reporters yesterday he was worried about his client’s wellbeing.
Others said Mr van Tongeren, who was granted bail just three weeks ago, was fearful about going to prison, had been depressed and was concerned about the health of his mother in Victoria. In a visit to the Perth offices of The Australian on February 15, Mr van Tongeren said he was innocent but had no faith in the justice system.
A former member of Mr van Tongeren’s group told The Australian the Vietnam war veteran was a skilled bushman who kept a cool head.
“He will have gone underground for sure – they’ll have a hard time finding him,” said the former group member, who has given information to the police.
Western Australian acting assistant police commissioner Paul Zanetti complained that Mr van Tongeren had a four-day head start because detectives and state security did not learn until Friday that he had not reported to Cannington police, as he was required to do daily, since February 20.
ANM leader and deputies deny charge of racist arson plot
By TIM CLARKE
January 12, 2005
WHITE supremacist leader Jack Van Tongeren and two of his deputies in the neo-Nazi Australian Nationalist Movement denied yesterday they were plotting to reprise the group’s racist firebombing campaign against Perth’s Asian community.
Van Tongeren, 57, John Anthony Van Blitterswyk, 53, and Matthew Peter Billing, 33, all appeared in the WA District Court to plead not guilty to a charge of conspiring to commit arson.
Appearing in the dock in shackles, Van Tongeren spoke only to plead to the charge that he and his co-accused conspired to firebomb four Chinese restaurants in the Perth suburbs of Willeton, Karawara and Ferndale between June 1 and July 16 last year.
All three men were ordered to appear again in court in June, when a date for their trial will be discussed.
The men also faced court on charges of criminal damage and wilfully destroying property, relating to a poster campaign for the ANM and racist graffiti sprayed on properties all over Perth.
Magistrate Pam Hogan adjourned those charges to June.
Speaking outside court, Billing said he was confident they would be acquitted on the conspiracy charges, saying Van Tongeren posed no threat to the community.
“A lot of you people demonise him but just because he has an alternative viewpoint does not make him dangerous,” Billing said.
“The case (against us) is moderate, and they have admitted that, so I can’t see it going much further – I have got every belief we will be found not guilty and acquitted.”
Van Tongeren was arrested in August last year when an intensive manhunt by WA police ended with his arrest in the heart of the Perth CBD following a tip-off.
Van Blitterswyk and Billing were arrested two weeks later at a rural property in Bindoon, 100km north of Perth.
The court had earlier been told the nub of the prosecution case would be rollover statements from two former ANM recruits, Daniel Klavins and Ian “Monty” Johnson.
Klavins, who has already admitted to spraying racist graffiti in the name of the group, told police van Blitterswyk claimed he would “shoot it out” with anyone who tried to arrest him and intended to “beat Ned Kelly’s record of killing policemen”.
The arrests came two years after Van Tongeren’s release from prison following a 12-year sentence served for organising an anti-Asian campaign, which included the firebombing of five Chinese restaurants.
The Vietnam veteran was convicted of 53 charges including conspiracy to drive Asians from the state, false pretences, breaking, entering and stealing, illegal use, theft, arson, causing an explosion, wilful damage, attempted arson and assault.