Mulrunji’s killing by Queensland police officer Chris Hurley rates only a footnote in the annals of justice.
Footnote number seven (7) in the twenty (20) page judgement of the Court of Appeal reads:
Inquest into the death of Mulrunji, Coroner’s Court, Cor 2857/04(9), 27 September 2006, Clements M (Acting State Coroner).
On 8th December 2006 the Court of Appeal increased the jail terms already served by three Palm Islanders and issued warrants for their arrest.
In his judgement, the Chief Justice De Jersey of Supreme Court said the following:
I first provide a summary of what occurred.
An Aboriginal man died on 19 November 2004 while in police custody on Palm Island. Over the following week, with increasing tension within the Palm Island community, the police presence there was increased. The riot on 26 November followed a community meeting, attended by up to 300 persons, at which some details from an autopsy report were publicly disclosed by Ms Kyle, the Council chairperson.
They included the assertion the death was caused by an accidental fall.
Dissatisfied with the disclosure, the crowd became very angry. Some suspected a police officer was responsible for the death.
Nowhere in the judgement did the Chief Justice mention the ‘suspicion’ by Palm Islanders was true.
Two years later the ‘suspicion‘ was backed up by the coroner’s finding that Snr Sgt Hurley killed Mulrunji Doomadgee in the police watch house on Palm Island on 19 November 2004.
Nor did the appeal court judge who supported the Chief Justice’s finding make any comment about the coroner’s finding.
It was left to the dissenting judge to place the small footnote in his judgment alluding to but not actually stating that the coroner had found that Mulrunji was killed by Hurley.
How did this come about?
While Premier Peater Beattie stood at the gates of parliament accepting a petition of 1160 people from Alec Domadgee for Snr Sgt Hurley to be charged his Attorney General was insisting Palm Island residents should be jailed for longer terms than had already been served.
At the gates of parliament the Premier made no mention of the systematic whitewash being performed by the Queensland Chief Justice.
Instead what Peter Beattie said was:
“Many people said at the beginning (when Mulrunji died) that there would not be due process…I said at the time that the coroner would go through due process and the matter would be followed appropriately and that’s what has happened.”
But the coroner has made her findings.
The Chief Justice has duly refused to take those findings into account in the sentencing of Palm Islanders.
More Murris in jail while Hurley runs free on full pay.
Labor’s reform of the Justice System
So, post-Fitzgerald, Labor governments have opened up the magistrate courts so that people like Coroner Clements is prepared to criticise the police.
But how does that change anything?
Particularly when the Supreme Court of Queensland is stacked with cold hearted conservatives who will not recognise a finding of fact when it is staring them in the face. Nothing has changed from the Joh years, the conservatives still retain power in key positions.
How many years do we have to wait for justice, Mr Beattie, while you are cutting trade deals over aboriginal land with multinational mining companies?
Please sign Mulrunji Letter Click here
9 December 2006