Magnetic Island North Queensland
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December 16th 2006
"Nothing has really changed" says Magnetic Elder

Christine George As Palm island's near neighbour, Magnetic Island may seem a world away from the troubled and tormented community across Halifax Bay who, this week, received news that the police officer, Sen Sgt Chris Hurley, involved in the death in custody of a Palm Islander, Mulrunji Doomadgee, would not face trial. Magnetic Island traditional owner, and Elder of the Wulgurukaba people, Ms Christine George, spoke to magnetictimes.com about the decision.

"It was an absolutely appalling decision that overturned the recommendations of the coroner. I think he (Hurley) should be tried by a jury instead of one person making the decision." said Ms George.

On Thursday the Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare decided there was no evidence to suggest Sen Sgt Hurley was criminally responsible for Mulrinji's death in 2004.
The decision contrasts with the earlier findings of the Acting State Coroner, Christine Clements who found that Sen Sgt Hurley had caused the death of Doomadgee.

Ms George went on to say, "Nothing has really changed. There are numerous instances of Aboriginals being incarcerated for minor crimes and receiving punishments that didn't fit the crime. There doesn't seem to be any consideration for the situation Aboriginal people are currently in."

Christine George was born on Palm Island herself in 1946 when Palm was a mission under the control of a superintendent.

"In those day we never had legal support. There wasn't a situation where anything could be reviewed" she said.

As for today, "Justice issues are nothing compared to the socio-economic issues of people living in remote communities like Palm. There are thousands of issues and not one that stands out that might correct the situation. I think it is up to the people of Palm Island to find a way forward. All we can do is support whatever their plans are."

Chris is keen to join whatever protests are to be held over the decision. "I'm sure there will be one next week." she said.

When asked if she thought local member and parliamentary Speaker, Mike Reynolds, who described the situation as "calamitous" before leaving on an overseas holiday, had done enough for Palm Islanders over this, she said, "I don't think Mike Reynolds can do too much." adding, "It doesn't seem like the justice system is independent of government. It seems like a cover-up.

"It's not right. Her (Leanne Clare's) comment that, "he (Doomadgee) had a complicated fall" is something I don't think the medical profession would agree with in those terms. You can't have a complicated fall and die like that."

The coronial inquest found that the death occurred as a result of a scuffle between Sen Sgt Hurley and Doomadgee after Doomadgee was arrested for swearing. Sergeant Hurley claimed he fell on the watchhouse floor beside Doomadgee but an autopsy found that the prisoner suffered from four broken ribs and his liver was severed in two.

Chris George said, "If it was your son that it had occurred to you would be doing everything possible that justice could be done. People in the community should be very mindful that this could happen to them."


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14 comments
 
Andreas Berg
December 16th 2006
I doubt that Mulrinji Doomadgee's case is a result of racism. This is defective law and justice system in Queensland. Democracy in Queensland is significantly compromised. There is no equality for everyone before the law. Mulrinji Doomadgee's case is not a single one. My father Vincent Berg, a white man, has been tortured and charged by Queensland Police with no direct evidence of any wrongdoing, and insufficient and contradictory circumstantial evidence. Yet, Queensland "justice system" has failed to charge policeman with the murder of Mulrinji Doomadgee, having much more evidence. Do we really have democracy in Queensland?
 
julie venables
December 17th 2006
I would like to know how many times in Qld's legal history, that the DPP has not prosecuted the person that the coroner found was clearly responsible for another's death.
 
Jim Akee
December 17th 2006
When Leanne Clare of the DPP came into the picture to look for further evidence before making her disgusting statement "that the evidence was not capable of proving the policeman was criminally responsible" for the death. Hello! Hello! Is Leanne Clare living on this planet? I recall three other high drama cases she was involved in that questions her credentials! I support a rolling protest march from the general community led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders until this case is heard by a Jury. Deaths in Custody is not only a black problem - and if it is a problem in a democracy - it has to be eliminated.
 
Jill
December 17th 2006
It is hard to believe that a liver can be broken in two from a simple fall - especially if, as the police officer states, he fell beside and not on top of Mr. Doomadgee.
I really feel that this matter needed a court case in which all the medical evidence could be explained by professionals to a jury. Then perhaps it could have been put to rest. As it is, it will fester for a long way into the future.
 
Jenny Stirling
December 18th 2006
There are any number of crimes against humanity going on around us at any one time.

We just usually never get to hear of them for one reason or another.

Mulrunji's death is not one of those cases.

What we have here is a clear example of systems' abuse where power, in this case, the police, the justice system and the government - an unholy trinity if ever there was one, have colluded to give a manifestly unjust outcome- not just for the immediate Doomadgee family, Palm Islanders or even Aboriginals everywhere in this state.

This decision has robbed us all of confidence in the justice system and we are all the poorer for it.

What we have here is state sponsored violence and when Beattie arrives on Palm in the next few days, I hope he receives the reception he deserves- that of wise and troubled Elders to an errant destructive 'child'.

Beattie may, if we are very fortunate, be shamed into understanding what the powerful and abusive often miss- that real power comes from within and these peope of Palm have survived much worse with dignity and hope borne of bone deep faith and spirituality.

We on the mainland are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of their real oppression- that we have failed to care what happens to our black brothers and sisters.

This lack of care manifests in the brokenness of alcoholism, domestic violence, suicide,no jobs, and yes the horror of child abuse.

We cannot say that this is a result of individual choice as those who trot out 'can do' manifestos. Otherwise statistically there would be less of it.

No, what happens on Palm is the result of values our society has based itself upon and the way we have judged 'difference'.

Beattie's shame is our shame.
 
Rev. T. Hoyt Drake
December 19th 2006
Well Spoken, All of you, above ! --Blessings and Healing, Hoyt
 
Rhonda Coles
December 22nd 2006
I am shocked and embarrased by the verdict passed down by Leanne Clare,she should hang her head in shame.
The policeman, Mr Hurley should be in gaol. Rhonda Coles.
 
Andreas Berg
December 29th 2006
Attempts to Justify Police Malfunctions in Queensland.
How sad to see publications like "Boys in blue seeing red" and "Police entitled to justice too" in The Gold Coast Bulletin, attempting to justify Police malfunctions! How bitter to read complaints of senior police officers publicly moaning about difficulties of their work! Are they professionals or not? We need professional and courageous police officers dedicated to their difficult job. We have to support and respect our Police, but public and political control over Police and Prosecution must be efficient. Otherwise, as evidence suggests, we can sacrifice our democracy and liberties. For example, I could name a number of cases, such as Vincent Berg's case, where the Police and DPP have proceeded with criminal charges having much-much less evidence than in Hurley's case. Yet, Hurley has not been charged - neither with manslaughter nor with criminal negligence at least. Moreover, he has not been sacked or even suspended from his duties as a police officer. I believe Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare, Minister for Police Judy Spence, Attorney-General Kerry Shine, and Premier Peter Beattie should face personal responsibility for this cover-up. A small commission appointed by Attorney-General is not enough. We are in need of a deep and broad parliamentary investigation of Queensland Police and Prosecution corrupted practices not only in Sergeant Hurley
 
Jenny Stirling
January 4th 2007
There has been an interesting discussion going on in The Australian under Gary Hughes' blog "what Man's Justice" abut this issue.

People are debating in earnest the Coroner's report, Leeanne Clare's performance and the nature of autopsy report and how Mulrunji's injuries were obtained.

I see the PM has made more comments yesterday about the need for an external review. Hmmm I would rather he pull the log out of his own eye...

It is also noted that Beattie has set aside more dollars for Murri Justice. I wonder where that leaves the rock throwers from Palm who have been sentenced to jail?

All in all we can see that this issue will not go away and there are lasting changes needed for the Qld administration of justice to have any credibility.


Jenny Stirling
NQ Greens spokesperson
 
Andreas Berg
January 4th 2007
Dear Acting Premier,
I would like to express my belief that a small commission appointed by Queensland Attorney-General to only investigate whether it is reasonable or not to prosecute Sergeant Chris Hurley is not enough. There are many other cases of alleged injustice, wrong charges, maltreatment by police, biased approach, etc, such as Vincent Berg's case, for example. What we need is a parliamentary commission undertaking a broad and deep investigation of Queensland Police and Prosecution practices. I do believe it is crucial for such a Commission to announce publicly phone, fax, and e-mail hotlines for complaints against Queensland Police and Prosecution. It is time to analyse what has been really improved since Fitzerald's Commission, what is not, and what further actions must be performed to make Queensland justice system efficiently functioning within democratic society.
Faithfully yours,
Andreas Berg,
 
Andreas Berg
January 18th 2007
Patrick Bramwell is an important witness in Doomadgee's case. His sudden death at the beginning of Street's investigation looks very suspicious. The possibility of murder should be thoroughly investigated not by Queensland Police.
 
Peter F. Hughes
January 29th 2007
Well, finally some justice for the people of Palm Island, Magnetic Island's poor neighbours.
A Queensland policeman is to face trial for the manslaughter of Mr Doomagee. This will be a first for deaths in custody.
Warren Mundine the Federal labor president has said of this matter, ''More needs to be done'

The federal Labor Party President Warren Mundine says he always had complete faith in Sir Lawrence.

"It's just a pity that we had to push it so hard to get to this end - this should never have happened in the first place," he said.

"The police inquiry should have been properly handled in the first place rather than the stuff up they had and the DPP had to be more transparent, had to be more accountable for the whole system."

Mr Mundine says more still needs to be done.

"It does bode well that this has now come through but we do want changes within the whole system, the procedures of police inquiries, the police who did that original inquiry need to be also disciplined for the incompetence that they held that police inquiry," he said.

Good luck Palm Islanders.
I wonder if there will be any indigenous people in the jury?
I wonder if the Qld police union will conduct any strikes over the issue?
And I wonder if the DPP can continue to exist in its present form?
Peter F. Hughes
Deakin University
Waurn Ponds

 
Peter Kandos
January 29th 2007
Leanne Clare has proven to be an inexperienced, inept and biased Director of the DPP and has kept the Qld judicial process at least 25 years behind the rest of Australia. Who is she to single handedly make decisions for which she is clearly incapable of doing either way. How on earth did she get her job anyway? Maybe if we can answer this question we may get an insight into her incompotence. I am sure that are many far more qualified people to do her job properly and fairly.
 
Jenny Kane
December 3rd 2009
Queensland police are quite often guilty of brutality, including against children / teenagers. To make matters worse, they also have the ability of making cases against their friends 'disappear'! The problem is they are a law unto themselves. There seems to be little supervision and no punishment of officers who are guilty of such things. The rot always starts at the top and works its way down. Until there is accountability at every leveland a willingness


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