No Justice for Mulrunji

In a cynical move before Christmas, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) released a media statement on 14 December 2006 to say the death of Mulrunji was an accident. Leanne Claire fails to explain why she adopted this view except to say her legal responsibilities are different to those of the coroner. Coroner Clements found that Snr Sgt Hurley was responsible for Mulrunji’s death.

In her 32 line statement to the media the DPP makes no mention of why Mulrunji was left to die unaided in his cell while police heard Mulrunji’s death throes on the video monitoring system.

In October 2006, the coroner made the following observations:

“There is clear evidence that this must have been able to be heard from the police station dayroom where the monitor was running.

Indeed the timing of Senior Sergeant Hurley’s visit to the cell suggests that the sounds were heard.

But the response was completely inadequate and offered no proper review of Mulrunji’s condition or call for medical attention.” (See page 26 of  “Finding of Inquest”).

Yet the DPP says that her investigation is not based on the evidence. She implies that an aboriginal witness was unreliable. However the DPP makes no mention of the way in which Snr Sgt Hurley changed his testimony when a second autopsy suggested that his earlier version(s) were not plausible.

In fact no proper police investigations were made because of personal friendship between Hurley and the investigating police from Townsville CIB. No proper evidence was collected and aboriginal statements were ignored.

The coroner stated in her report:

“It was unwise and inappropriate for an officer serving on Palm Island, who was known to be a friend of Senior Sergeant Hurley to be involved in the investigation …
It was inappropriate for the officer most likely to be under investigation to be the person picking up the investigators from the airport.
It was a serious error of judgement for the investigating team, including officers from ethical standards, to be sharing a meal at the home of that officer that evening.”

The DPP stated in the 14th December 2006 media release that ‘Mr Doomadgee died from internal injuries caused by a crushing force to the front of his abdomen.’

How can a man sustain injuries of four broken ribs, a ruptured portal vein and a ‘liver cleaved in two’ from an innocent fall ? How can a man die from tripping over steps? The DPP has made no explanation except to say:

“It is clear both Mulrunji and Sergeant Hurley fell together through the open door at the police station and this fall is the only explanation for his death.”

What about the other explanations given by witnesses that Hurley punched Mulrunji?

No rational explanation from Premier for DPP decision

Beattie cannot be believed
Here are just a few comments from more than 80 people who endorsed the Mulrunji letter to the Premier:

beattie-takes-away-petitions in October 2006
Beattie takes away petitions given at the gates of parliament in 2006

I fully support the above letter – it’s time to see the human rights of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander …

I endorse this letter. Are we going to have a state government that embodies truth, justice and honesty or hypocrisy, …

The lack of transparency, accountability and honesty about Mulrunji’s death reveal a shocking revelation that equality, democracy and justice are …

I fully support this letter too

I fully support this message

another government lie we will follow due process? why is it such a fight to get the govenment to do the right thing…

In 1956 Michael Jorgensen was taken into police custody in Mt Isa. ‘Jorgie’, as he was known, was put in …(another death in custody)

I am an Australian Muslim and I would like to say that when we invited the Police Minister for “Iftar” … (told police minister that the muslim community would be looking at what the government does about Mulrunji)

I endorse this letter.

I really feel that your government’s failure to deal with this matter smacks of racism as aboriginal people are gaoled …

Dear Premier, Justice delayed is justice denied. Please ensure that the DPP is considering the decision about laying charges over the …

This letter raises matters of justice which should not be delayed nor denied. The rule of law is only upheld …

Sam Watson talks with Officer in charge of police at rally in Queens Park 2006

Despite these accusations of bias against his government, Premier Beattie  still claims the contrary.

Ian Curr
December 2006

3 thoughts on “No Justice for Mulrunji

  1. what can one say about law? DDP Clare has confirmed to us all yesterday that law is not justice and that police in Queensland are above the law and they certainly don’t know what justice is. Does the DDP and the QPS and the Police Union have anything amounting to a conscious or one ounce of human decency amongst their members? What about duty of care and the fact that they are all simply public servants bound by codes of behaviour. Does DDP Clare presume to think that the Palm Island witnesses are less credible than SS Hurley? My reading of her statment is that the Palm Island witnesses will not stand up to the rigours of cross examination therefore no need for the expense of a trial. What about an involuntary manslaughter charge. “A terrible accident”? I’m not convinced to say the least!

  2. Cassandra Steer says:

    It is a very very sad time for all Queenslanders without exception. As many people often quote, “Injustice anywhere, is injustice everywhere” –all injustice invariably comes back to bite each of us, in some way.

    Unfortunately, 80% of the population are concerned only with injustices that affect them directly. It is a common human trait that we can be quite egocentric – believing our own bushfire is the central inferno, rather than seeing our specific situation is merely a different representation of the same dynamic.

    This narrowness of vision affects us all. We cannot escape the negative effects of the ignorance and apathy, that we are all guilty of, to some degree. However, if we all band together and start looking out for each other’s human rights as a community, these government endorsed human right violations WILL have to decrease in frequency. Our political leaders need to be “vote followers” for their political survival. Enhance community awareness and action, and the political endorsement inevitably follows. But it has to come from the community first.

    You don’t have to look too hard for human rights abuses in Queensland It’s not so much about how much evidence exists – or establishing guilt or innocence. It is all about who you know, what service you represent, what is at stake with your charge/verdict/sentence, how much $$$ you have, and how much leverage you have to distort justice. Incompetence mixed with a cover-up mentality, cultural intolerance, devoid moral fabric, and often financial, career, and “social” benefits, renders the DPP, in certain pockets, useless.

    I have been a sociologist for 12 years and have been a “good little conformist person” my entire life – yet the more injustice I see (and experience) involving evil people, with significant power, within governing institutions – (psychopaths are inherently attracted to positions of power), the more I feel the need to speak out against it.

    As a post-graduate criminology student and undergraduate law student it is clearly obvious to me that “justice” can depend on an unrelated but politically advantageous story, that the DPP wish to write, based on their questionable self-serving agenda, and pressure from dubious players. (And that is not even mentioning the unintentional havoc caused by the clueless incompetents!).

    Mulrunji’s death is a good place for community action to start. As a community, we will not tolerate a police officer with a prima facie case, being immune from prosecution, only by virtue of his profession. We will not tolerate a coverup when when a police officer’s actions has irrefutably been in someway linked the death of (or even excessive force towards any citizen). We will not tolerate having bystanding officer’s duty to protect life. overlooked. We will not tolerate obvious evidence being ignored and minimalised by the DPP. As a community, we will not tolerate the excessive targetting of politically powerless people by the “justice” system. As a community, we will not tolerate the inexcusable injustices which happen to the politically powerless every day within the “justice” system in Queensland – whether it be in prosecutions, judiary or corrections.

  3. Joh’s back!

    From “The Australian”
    “THE former judge chosen by the Beattie Government to review a decision by the state’s top prosecutor not to lay charges in the Palm Island death-in-custody case has become embroiled in a conflict-of-interest dispute after it emerged he voted to appoint Leanne Clare as Director of Public Prosecutions.”,20867,20974525-2702,00.html

    my comment

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