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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 05:33 GMT
Man charged over Sydney messages
The word "Sorry" is written with seaweed on Sydney's Cronulla Beach
Last weekend was calm despite fears of further violence
A Sydney man has been charged with sending SMS messages to incite violence in the days following the city's race riots, Australian police have said.

The 33-year-old man - the first to be charged with such an offence - faces a maximum three-year jail term.

Police say they expect to make similar arrests in the coming days.

Thousands of white men attacked people of Middle Eastern appearance on a beach in Sydney on 11 December, apparently in revenge for an attack on two men.

Violence by both sides continued for two nights, and text messages inciting further unrest the following weekend were sent around Sydney and other areas of Australia.

About 2,000 officers patrolled Sydney's beaches last weekend, in a huge operation designed to prevent such unrest taking place.

More arrests likely

The suspect, whose identity has not been released, is believed to have forwarded messages calling for people to meet at two Sydney beaches last Sunday.

He has been released on bail and is scheduled to appear in court on 1 February.

Police Commander Dennis Bray told ABC radio that detectives and phone companies were working hard to trace many other text messages sent about the riots.

"We've been working in the last week in gathering and analyzing information we've obtained from the carriers, and this fellow was identified as one fellow that had been sending messages and we've acted," he said.

"There will be more, but at this stage he unfortunately was the first one."

Meanwhile the New South Wales state government has announced an A$250,000 ($183,000) campaign to bring tourists back to Sydney's beaches.

Some beach-side businesses have reported a slump in takings by up to 75% since the unrest.

"Now it's time to return to these local beach communities to show your support," New South Wales Tourism Minister Sandra Nori told local people on Thursday.

Advertisements for the area, featuring well-known sports stars, have been designed to persuade people it is safe to return.

This week, the authorities in Britain, Canada and Indonesia issued warnings to their citizens to be on guard for possible continuing racial violence at Sydney's beaches.

But there has been no apparent fall in tourists flying to Australia for the busy Christmas period.

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