It appears that neither criminal charges nor any kind of misconduct proceedings will arise from the death of an innocent man, Mulrunji, from injuries received in custody at Palm Island. What’s even worse, is that the Director of Public Prosecutions chose, not merely to state that there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial, but to make a positive finding of accidental death, contrary to the findings of the Coroner on the same evidence. The Courier-Mail reported the decision as “overturning the findings of a two-year coronial inquest”.
As far as I can tell, the DPP has no power to do anything of the kind. Certainly, I can’t recall anything like this announcement in the past. Maybe someone with more legal background can clarify this. But even if the DPP hasn’t exceeded her powers, the statement was ill-advised and inflammatory.
As Noel Pearson points out, this isn’t the first dubious decision made by Leanne Clare, and something of a pattern seems to be emerging. If you’re on the outer with the establishment (Pauline Hanson, Di Fingleton) dubious charges will be pursued to the limit. But if you’re on the inside, things are very different. The government and the Police Force have mishandled this case from day one, and it’s unsurprising the the victim’s family feel that they have been railroaded.
And I agree with Federal Minister Mal Brough. We need a public inquiry into the whole tragic business, including the government’s handling of it.