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Framed?

Frame-up cover
Poster “Frame-up – Who Bombed the Hilton?” Pam DEBENHAM TIN SHEDS POSTERS 1984 (Click to see original).

In Brisbane, in the late 1970s  the religious sect Ananda Marga were active in helping unemployed, including organising soup kitchens for aboriginal people.

One of their members, Evan Pederick, had been arrested with thousands of people marching for democratic rights and opposing uranium mining and export.

On 11 November, the eve of the 1977 Queensland state elections, I shared a cell with about 25 people, I think Evan Pederick may have been one of them. There were 197 people crushed into the South Brisbane watchouse after yet another day of mass arrests by police acting on the orders of the Bjelke-Petersen government. Pederick’s name appears on the arrest list for that day.

In the cells was Matt Foley who later became the attorney-general in the  Goss Labor government. These were extraordinary times.

After more mass arrests at the next big demonstration for the right to march on 3 December 1977, Evan Pederick, then only 22 years of age, etched his name on the concrete cell wall.

In the watchouse, Inspector Harris charged Evan Pederick with wilful damage. He was later convicted in absentia in the Magistrate’s Court for disobey direction, unlawful procession and wilful destruction. After a later arrest for marching, I read the short protest he scrawled beneath his name on the cell wall. Police hadn’t bothered to erase this ‘wilful damage’ – his memory of his protest – even though he was convicted and fined $120, a lot of money in those days especially if you were unemployed.

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Garbage Truck destroyed outside the Hilton Hotel Sydney, 1978.Two garbage workers and a policeman died at the scene. Photo: Sun Herald

Two council workers and a policeman died when a gelignite bomb exploded in the early hours of February 13, 1978, as the bin it had been placed in was emptied into a garbage truck. Much pointed to the Australian security forces. No one was charged with the murder of those men till April 1990.

However on the 15th of June 1978 the ‘Margies’ (the special branch’s corruption of this term was ‘Maggots’) Alister, Dunn and Anderson were arrested for conspiring to kill a local neo-nazi, Robert Cameron.

Evan became active in the unemployed workers union in Brisbane. In July 1978 Joh Bjelke-Peterson, then premier of Queensland, claimed that a direct threat have been made against his life by Ananda Marga and that he was on a death list provided to him by Queensland police. Queensland police denied that they had such death list.

In the book The Hilton Bombing by Imre Salusinszky, Pederick claims that the Ananda Marga hierarchy had told him to ‘infiltrate’ the right to march and anti-uranium movements in Brisbane in 1977.

Pederick claims that Michael Brandon aka Dada Abniik, a senior Margi askd him to get involved with the left-wing student-led protest movements against Bjelke-Petersen. The words used by Salusinszky to describe pedericks environment in the left in Brisbane sound more like parody of the left than serious extra-parliamentary opposition to the Queensland Government:

“It was almost hilarious that an uber-wowserby decree of his guru he (Pederick) now found himself among the youthful worshippers of sex drugs and rock and roll he found the language confronting swearing was the boton in Ananda Marga but the energy of it all excited him the experience accelerated his overall radicalisation which may have been the PT. But there were moments that disgusted him as when a demonstrator who was ranting in an unhinged way needlessly kicked a cane toad during a March through the botanic gardens.”

Pederick and his partner Carmel were active around West End during this time and later.

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Qld Premier Bjelke-Petersen speaking at a meeting in Blackall, 1,000 kilometres north-west of Brisbane, when the Miss Australia of 1968, Mrs Helen Bonner, then Miss Helen Newton, began asking questions about civil liberties in Queensland. “If you fly with the crows you get shot with the crows”, Mr Bjelke-Petersen told her. Cartoon: John Hague in Guilt by Association KW Vista (LeftPress).

Strangely, in May 1989, Pederick made admissions to Queensland CIB detectives that he had participated in the bombing outside the Hilton hotel along with Tim Anderson. Anderson had been separately charged with the bombing based on the account of a criminal by the name of Denning.

Police had no record of Pederick taking part in any of the earlier actions involving Alister, Anderson and Dunn. At the time of the Hilton bombing, Pederick’s activist activities had been confined to Brisbane where he participated in the non-violent democratic rights movement.

He was a member of the Unemployed Workers Union which was located in the old Trades Hall in Upper Edward Street, hardly a place from which to carry out a terrorist attack. Pederick had voiced his concerns about violence against innocent people. Yet he was duly convicted on evidence based entirely on his confessions given to police implicating himself and Anderson.

Was Pederick motivated to get Anderson and the only way he could do that was by implicating himself?  Why he would do that is unclear. Perhaps Anderson had shunned him as a friend? Despite no real evidence Pederick was sentenced to 18 years jail for the murder of innocent garbage workers and a policeman. He later recanted his admission of guilt and was discharged after 6 years.

Meanwhile, at trial, Tim Anderson was acquitted despite the unreliability of evidence given by Evan Pederick.

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A policeman active in the arrests of Queensland political activists, Det Sgt Barry Cornelius O’Brien, and later a private investigator, was to vet Joh’s jury on behalf of his defence team. Joh went to trial on lying to the Fitzgerald Inquiry about taking bribes from developers and miners. A national party member was allowed into the jury based on information supplied by O’Brien to Bjelke-Petersen’s lawyers and the jury was unable to come to a verdict because he held out against the rest. Crown law chief ‘Bulldog’ Drummond later entered a nolle prosequi against Petersen freeing him from any further charges.

Evan Pederick later gave this curious explanation for his admissions of guilt (in a News Ltd report):

“Is it possible that in 1978, dominated by the influence of the Ananda Marga and yet in conflict with the demands of the sect, I had acquired a deep sense of guilt which expressed itself in an obsession with the cataclysmic events for which Ananda Marga was held responsible at the time? I do not know.”

Regardless of whether you accept this explanation or not, it is a big leap of faith to believe that Pederick had involvement in the Hilton Bombing based on his confessions alone. Pederick did not confess to police until 1989, 11 years after the bombing took place. Imre Salusinszky claims there is corroborating evidence adduced 12 years later in both Pederick’s and Anderson’s trials. Nevertheless courts are wary of historical evidence, recall and identification becomes difficult. Contemporaneity is lost. So difficult to solve a cold case.

Infiltration & Entrapment
The NSW Special Branch applied age old tactics of infiltration and entrapment to repress the political wing of Ananda Marga called PROUT. In 1985, a member of the Unemployed Workers Union put together these documents published here to explain how the Ananda Marga were framed on charges of conspiracy, murder and terrorism by Australian security forces.

Police verbals played a very big role in conviction of Tim Anderson, Ross Dunn and Paul Alister on these charges. Infiltration and entrapment was not always quite so covert here in Queensland.

Police dressed as demonstrators had been filmed urging people to march into the waiting arms of police. Provocateurs have been planted in the midst of demonstrations to incite a violent response to normally peaceful demonstrators. Nevertheless violence on the part of demonstrators was rare.

11nov1977 (2)
Plain clothes police marked with circles infiltrating ‘Joh Must Go’ demonstration on election day 12 November 1977 in King George Square Brisabane (renamed Fred Patterson Square after only elected Communist in Australia’s history )

This process of infiltration and entrapment has gone on for so long in Australia that it has become an acceptable political tool even in the ranks of the ALP. Wendy Bacon reported (SBS program Dateline), covert action in the metal and building trade unions in Australia. So extensive was the influence of certain right-wing figures that they were alleged to have used US finances to orchestrate a military coup in Fiji. These allegations were never refuted convincingly but were supported by an ABC Four Corners program.

In 1985 the Committee for the acquittal of Alister, Anderson and Dunn (CAADA) in Brisbane published a compilation of documents arguing to free the three Ananda Marga members jailed in the Cameron conspiracy case as a result of the Hilton Bombing in 1978.

It is not possible to determine who bombed the Hilton resulting in the deaths of 3 people and injuries to others. Supporters of those accused say Australian security forces planted the bomb in the garbage bin outside the Hilton in the same way Special Branch’s Richard Seary planted the ‘bomb’ on the Ananda Margas to get them on the conspiracy charge of attempting to murder Nazi Robert Cameron.

All the security forces including ASIO and state Special Branches got extra funding after the bombing of the Hilton. It also led to the formation of the Australian Federal Police.

Ian Curr
13th of January 2020

Postscript: Tim Anderson went on to become a professor of political economy at Western Sydney University and he is the author of The Dirty War in Syria.

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Frame-Up: who bombed the Hilton?

Prepared by CAADA  (Campaign for the acquittal of Alister, Dunn and Anderson in February, 1984)

INTRODUCTION
Since Tim Anderson, Ross Dunn and Paul Alister were arrested on June 16 1978, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding both their imprisonment and the legal proceedings they Initiated in ·an attempt to gain justice through the Australian judicial system.

On February 13 1984 the High Court 0£ Australia dismissed an appeal by the three men against their convictions for conspiracy to murder Robert Cameron , and by Dunn and Alister against their convictions ‘for attempted murder. With this decision , all legal avenues of appeal have been exhausted.

Failing to secure any justice through the legal system, CAADA (Campaign for the Acquittal of Alister, Dunn and Anderson) now calls on the NSW Premier, Mr. Wran, and the NSW Attorney General , Mr. Landa, to intervene in the case and make a political decision to free the three men.

The central argument of this submission is that Tim Anderson, Ross Dunn and Paul Alister should immediately be granted a full pardon and released . from jail.

The main reasons why this is the only acceptable course of action and why a political decision is required to free the three men

They are as follows:

  • The three men have now appeared in a committal hearing, two trials, a Supreme Court appeal, the Hilton Inquest arid a High Court In none of these legal proceedings has all the relevant material, including new ·evidence from the Hilton Inquest, been put together and examined in its entirety. In fact, given the nature of the case – the role of an agent provocateur, inconsistencies in police evidence, the prejudicial cross­-examination, the prejudicial climate in which the trial was conducted, and unsubstantiated allegations about the Hilton bombing – and the limitations of the legal system, it is extremely doubtful whether any court could reach a just and impartial decision.
  • Transcripts from all the litigation, as well as over 1,000 pages of submissions and documentation prepared by defence lawyers and CAADA (see Appendix) – most of which has never been produced in court – are in the possession of the NSW Attorney General’s.  This material, when examined thoroughly and system­atically, establishes the innocence of the three men beyond any shadow of a doubt.
  • A Judicial Inquiry could not be expected to produce any further evidence or shed any new light on the case, especially when the above legal proceedings have failed to satisfactorily cover all the different aspects of the case or resolve many of the contradictions in the evidence. Besides, the Attorney-General’ s department already has everything it needs to take action in the case.

The new evidence which came out of the Hilton inquest, proving that Richard Seary (Special Branch) had fabricated significant sections of his testimony, completely destroys his credibility and is a sufficient ground alone to overturn the conviction.

During the High court appeal, Justice Murphy was the only judge to address himself to the merits of the case, and he repeatedly called for the men’s appeal against their convictions to be upheld.

Tim Anderson, Ross Dunn and Paul Alister have already been in jail for nearly six years, and any further delay in their release only compounds the injustice done to them.

Mr. Walker, the former Attorney General in a letter dated 14 April 1982, indicated that a departmental review of the case had been instituted to assess whether an inquiry under · Section 475 of the Crimes Act was justified. Subsequently, however, legal officers of the Attorney General’ s department advised CAADA that no judicial inquiry could be sought until the appellate process had been exhausted.

Two year later, after an unsuccessful High Court appeal, CAADA is of the opinion that a judicial inquiry is of no value in securing justice for Anderson, Dunn and Alister.

Mr. Landa , in a letter dated 13 December 1983, indicated that an application for a No Bill of Indictment for  Ross Dunn and Paul Alister arising out of the Hilton Inquest would not be finalized until after the High Court appeal had been completed and a final judgment handed down. Now that the appellate process has been exhausted, CAADA submits that the NSW Attorney General should not only accept the No Bill application, but immediately act to secure the release of Anderson, Dunn and Alister.

Tim Anderson, Ross Dunn and Paul Alister are political prisoners, and only a political decision taken by the NSW Government can secure their immediate release and only a political decision to secure their immediate release.

CAADA
February 1984

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Editors Note: The Story of the Frame-up is published below:

Frame-up

One response to “Framed?

  1. Democratic Rights March 11 Nov 1977

    A rally for the right to march and organise is held in the City square at 4.30pm with 2,000 people in attendance. An open forum is held until a proposal to march is put and carried at approximately 7.30pm. The march is cut off and besieged in Albert Street by about 700 police and 197 marchers are arrested. There is a debate inside the watchouse whether to accept bail or to wait till the next day (Queensland State election day 12 November 1977) to front the magistrate. Most accept bail but return to a forum at 10am in King George square.

    Following several mock inflammatory speeches marchers proceed around the fountain in the centre of the square which declared a liberated area and renamed Fred Patterson Square after the CPA MLA who was badly bashed by police on St. Pat’s Day march during the 1948 Railways Strike. Police move in during the afternoon and confiscate the speaking equipment and arrest another 5 people.

    – Qld state state elections are held with a 10% swing against the government in the Brisbane Metropolitan area and a 7% swing to Labor statewide. For example Terry Macenroth (later Police Minister) wins the Liberal seat of Chatsworth.

    – In Sydney 50 people demonstrate in Mrtin Place in support of democratic and trade union rights in Q’ld. They move to the Government Tourist Bureau where a large poster of Bjelke-Petersen is burned. An agent provocateur infiltrates the crowd and police arrest a number of people including Mitch Thompson an activist from the 1967 Civil Liberties march where 126 people were arrested in Roma Street.
    – In Melbourne 70 people attend a rally with speakers in City (now Federation) Square where a motion of support is telegrammed to the Brisbane Rally including a motion demanding the dropping of all charges and the rescinding of the ban on street marches.

    Here is original film of the 11 November 1977 Rally and march in Brisbane:

    Ian Curr
    May 2016

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