Family rejects DPP meeting
THE f a mi l y o f Mul r u n j i Doomadgee has refused the offer of a private meeting with the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions, Leanne Clare, to hear what additional evidence led to her refusal to lay charges against Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley.
‘‘We have nothing to discuss with the DPP in private, because we believe the evidence should be made public,’’ Elizabeth Doomadgee said yesterday.
The offer of a private meeting came from Premier Beattie during his recent visit to Palm Island, after Mrs Clare had announced that there wasn’t enough evidence to bring SenSgt Hurley to trial.
In direct opposition to the findings of Deputy State Coroner Christine Clements, who found Sen-Sgt Hurley was responsible for Mulrunji’s fatal injuries, Mrs Clare described the death from a severely ruptured spleen as a ‘terrible accident’ caused by a fall.
She said her own investigations after the inquest led her to believe there wasn’t enough evidence which would allow a jury to reach a guilty verdict.
That extra evidence is yet to be released to the public, which outraged at least one indigenous activist.
Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson suggested holding back on such vital evidence made a nonsense of Premier Beattie’s statement to Palm Islanders last week that justice needed not only to be done, but to be seen to be done.
The Doomadgee family’s lawyer, Frederic Cassis, said the inquest spanned 18months, which gave the Government ample time to present all evidence it thought relevant to the case.
‘‘If the additional evidence existed prior to the end of the inquest, why wasn’t it tendered?’’ Mr Cassis asked.
‘‘It is disgraceful for the Government to now rely on ‘additional evidence’ in these circumstances, and then continue to shroud such evidence in a veil of secrecy.’’
The issue has split the wider community and caused so much friction that Premier Beattie last week bowed to public pressure and appointed the retired Chief Judge of the District Court, Pat Shanahan, to review Mrs Clare’s decision.
That appointment itself has now come under attack because in 2000 Judge Shanahan was one of a panel of three which unanimously recommended Mrs Clare’s appointment as DPP.
And t h a t , according t o Frederic Cassis, is a clear conflict of interest.
‘‘It is totally inappropriate for Pat Shanahan to lead any review of the DPP’s decision (because) he endorsed Leanne Clare’s competency in supporting her (for her appointment) as DPP,’’ Mr Cassis said.
‘‘Her competence is an issue at the very heart of this review,’’ Mr Cassis said.
‘‘In the interests of justice, this independent review needs to be referred to a person outside Queensland who is free from all political, personal or any kind of affiliation to Leanne Clare or anyone else involved in this matter,’’ Mr Cassis said.