Australia: Paid marriage broker for Thai prostitutes and cabaret dancers

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Melanie Orhant (
Fri, 25 Sep 1998 14:22:31 -0500

MP a victim of immigration scam: lawyer
The Age, September 25, 1998

A Victorian MP accused of beating his Thai wife was the victim of a
``fraudulent immigration racket'' to entrap naive Australian men in
loveless marriages, the Ringwood Magistrates Court was told yesterday.

Mr Stephen Dewberry, representing state Labor MP Mr Tayfun Eren, 39, told
the court that Ms Lamduen Santrong, the woman who introduced Mr Eren to his
wife, was once linked to Asian triads and now acted as a paid marriage
broker for Thai prostitutes and cabaret dancers.

Mr Dewberry said Mr Eren was the victim of a marriage scam that targeted
vulnerable and divorced Western men.

Mrs Kanitha Eren, who is seeking an intervention order against her husband,
has said he was an abusive drunk who had beaten and threatened her.

Mr Eren, who was elected to the state upper house seat of Doutta Galla in
1996, has denied the claims.

Mr Dewberry told the court Mr Eren was duped into believing his estranged
wife was of ``high reputation'' and genuine when they married, three months
after she arrived in Australia on a tourist visa in June last year.

In a dramatic turn yesterday, Mr Dewberry recalled Ms Santrong to give
evidence, claiming she lied when she said on Wednesday that her former
Australian-born husband, ``Neil'', was dead.

``He isn't,'' Mr Dewberry told the magistrate, Mr Des Martin. ``He was
watching television (news reports) last night and has come forward.''

On information allegedly provided by Neil, Mr Dewberry put to Ms Santrong
that she ran Business ZigZag, a scheme designed to find Australian husbands
for Thai women to help them gain permanent residency.

The court was told Ms Santrong allegedly told clients to divorce their
husbands after two years of marriage - the period needed to qualify for
Australian residency.

``We are scratching the surface of a fraudulent immigration racket,'' Mr
Dewberry said.

Ms Santrong denied the allegations. She said Neil, an Australian English
teacher she married in Thailand, was a heroin addict and she had assumed he
was dead.

Mr Dewberry has alleged that Mrs Eren's application was an attempt to
retain permanent residency status, which she will lose unless it can be
proved her one-year marriage broke down because of domestic violence.

In previous hearings, Mrs Eren told the court Mr Eren followed her to
Thailand in May, where he became drunk, demanded sex, slapped and stripped
her. The court also has been told she was admitted to hospital in Bangkok
where doctors treated her for wounds to her face and chest, and that Mr
Eren was charged and fined over the incident.

The case is continuing.

Melanie Orhant

Human Trafficking Program
Global Survival Network

P.O. Box 73214
Washington, DC 20009
T: 387-0028
F: 387-2590

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