Palm disgusted: review refused
THE Palm Island community was seething last night following Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare’s decision not seek an external review of her decision in the Hurley matter.
Mrs Clare ignored Premier Peter Beattie and Attorney General Kerry Shine’s requests for a review, which came after the Premier visited the angry Palm community on Wednesday.
Her final decision comes one week after she announced Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley would not be charged over Mulrunji Doomadgee’s death.
Newly elected Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Delena Oui-Foster said she was angry and disgusted with Mrs Clare.
‘‘For the DPP not to have an independent review I think is cowardly,’’ she said.
‘‘There is so much international interest in this case it would be in Leanne Clare’s best interest to request the review — it makes me wonder what has she got to hide.
‘‘(Mulrunji Doomadgee’s) family and our community have been traumatized since the death in custody for the last two years, hoping that the judicial system will give us justice.’’
Ms Oui-Foster called for Mrs Clare’s sacking.
She said the Palm Island community would remain calm but not stop fighting for justice.
The Doomadgee family were too shocked to speak to the Townsville Bulletin last night, but were expected to make comment today.
Mrs Clare said she was acutely aware of the controversy over the decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Hurley over the death of Mulrunji on Palm Island.
‘‘It does not change the fact, however, that the evidence does not support a prosecution,’’ she said in a prepared statement.
‘‘The prosecution guidelines prevent a prosecution where the evidence offers no reasonable prospects of a conviction. This is the test applied by prosecutors across Australia.
‘‘The firm assessment of my office was that the evidence fell considerably short of that which would be required to put anyone on trial.
‘‘Therefore, no one in my office could prosecute this case regardless of any position adopted by an external review.
‘‘Prosecuting is not about being popular. It is about acting on the admissible evidence without fear or favour and doing what is con- sidered in good faith to be the right thing.’’
But Ms Oui-Foster said she did not accept the DPP’s explanation in light of deputy State coroner Christine Clements’ ruling that S e n - S g t H u r l e y c a u s e d Mulrunji’s death in September.
Mrs Clare said that instigating an external review also posed a fundamental issue about the independence of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
‘‘A carefully considered decision was made in this matter. The proper exercise of the independent statutory function of the DPP should not be overridden by another agency,’’ she said.
Mrs Clare said she would be happy to meet again with the Doomadgee family.
Mr Beattie announced yesterday that from now on all indigenous deaths in custody would be treated suspiciously.
Mr Beattie announced in Bris- bane that investigations would be ‘centrally managed’ by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, the police Ethical Standards Command as well as specialist units such as homicide.
‘‘It’s a bit too late for our brother that died but I think that it is a positive step that this will never happen again,’’ Ms OuiFoster said.
Aboriginal activist Gracelyn Smallwood said Mr Beattie’s announcement was simply too little, too late.
‘‘What is he doing about the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee, and how can the Queensland public have any faith in the garbage that is coming out of his mouth now?’’ Ms Smallwood said.
‘‘Just to save political face he’s making all these ridiculous statements.
‘‘He’s let a police officer get away with an Aboriginal death in custody. We just have no faith in him.’’
Meanwhile, Mrs Clare said that a comparison could not be drawn between the Hurley and Volkers cases, for which an external opinion was sought.
‘‘The circumstance with the Volkers case was different,’’ Mrs Clare said.
‘‘In that case there were two police investigations. A decision not to prosecute was made by this office on the first brief of evidence.
‘‘The second brief of evidence was not considered by this office. Rather, it was sent interstate for an external opinion to avoid any perception of bias that might arise from the first decision.’’