Two men have been arrested after a branch of a popular gourmet burger chain run by an outspoken pro-Palestine entrepreneur was burned down, with police stating the alleged arson was ‘not a hate crime’ as the owner suggested.
Burgertory’s Caulfield branch in Melbourne‘s south east burned down about 4am on Friday, November 10 last year. No one was inside at the time.
On Wednesday Victoria Police investigating the ‘suspicious’ fire arrested at 27-year-old man at an apartment in Carnegie in Melbourne’s south east around 9.15am.
They later arrested a 25-year-old man in Dallas in the city’s north about 11am.
Both men are currently assisting police with enquiries and arson-related charges are expected to be laid.
On Wednesday Victoria Police investigating the ‘suspicious’ fire arrested at 27-year-old man at an apartment in Carnegie in Melbourne’s south east around 9.15am (pictured)
Burgertory’s Caulfield branch in Melbourne’s south east burned down around 4am on Friday (pictured)
The fire came shortly after Burgertory’s founder, Hash Tayeh, received criticism for leading cries of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ at a Melbourne rally.
Mr Tayeh claimed the fire was linked to his involvement in a pro-Palestine rally and alleged it was a hate crime.
Hours after he made the claim, two groups of around 200 people each – one largely pro-Palestine and the other largely pro-Israel clashed near a synagogue and the Burgertory store.
One man was pepper-sprayed by police and another reported receiving minor injuries after being hit by a rock.
But on Wednesday police insisted the fire was not a hate crime.
Hash Tayeh (pictured with his wife), 32 – who founded Burgertory in 2018 which has since become Australia’s biggest independently-owned burger chain – claimed the suspected arson was a hate crime but Victoria Police said it wasn’t
Hours after Mr Tayeh made the claim, two groups of around 200 people each – one largely pro-Palestine and the other largely pro-Israel clashed near a synagogue and the Burgertory store (pictured)
‘We know this incident was not a hate crime; it wasn’t motivated by prejudice or politics,’ Moorabbin Investigation and Response Inspector Scott Dwyer said.
‘Not only did this blaze destroy a business, it also put innocent members of the public at risk of being injured.’
Mr Tayeh’s legal team told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday, the burger chain has been doing everything possible to help investigators.
‘Burgertory has been assisting Victoria police with the investigation, including providing all evidence of threats and intimidation received by Burgertory prior to the arson attack and are pleased the investigation has now progressed.
‘The matter is now before the courts and therefore it is not appropriate to further comment.’
Ten fire crews battled to extinguish the blaze, which gutted the restaurant and shattered its glass windows, for around half an hour.