The Queensland government will order an independent review of
the decision by its top prosecutor not to charge a police sergeant
over the death of Mulrunji Doomadjee on Palm Island.
But Mr Doomadgee's family says it wants the review conducted
outside Queensland to ensure it is "fully independent".
Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine today said he would seek
an independent review of the decision by Director of Public
Prosecutions (DPP) Leanne Clare not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris
Hurley over Mulrunji's death in 2004.
He said Ms Clare had agreed to provide him with her file on the
case, allowing him to commission an independent review.
The move was a major backflip from the DPP, who last night
insisted she would not seek an external review of her decision
because "the evidence does not support a prosecution".
Mr Shine said Ms Clare had unexpectedly offered to hand over the
"Once the offer was made, I thought it was my responsibility to
accept it due to the level of community consternation regarding
this case," he said.
Mr Shine said he would refer the file to the crown solicitor to
commission an independent review of the material.
The crown solicitor would choose who would head the review,
which was expected to be made public when parliament resumes in
Details were expected to be released in the coming days.
The Palm Island community, off Townsville in north Queensland,
had called for an second opinion into Ms Clare's decision during
angry rallies on the island on Wednesday.
Doomadgee family lawyer Frederic Cassis today said they were
pleased with plans for a review.
"But it is concerned to make sure whoever is appointed to
conduct the independent review is fully independent," he said.
"We're calling for it to be taken out of Queensland first thing
and secondly, that it be headed by a retired High Court judge, for
example, Justice (Michael) McHugh or Chief Justice (Sir Anthony)
"Ultimately what the family wants is for charges to be brought
against Chris Hurley."
A coroner in September found Snr Sgt Hurley was responsible for
landing the fatal blows which caused Mulrunji's death in the
island's watchhouse in November 2004.
Premier Peter Beattie, who has repeatedly refused to interfere
in the DPP's decision, said Ms Clare's move was a "way forward"
which protected her independence.
"I would appeal to everybody, whether it's indigenous
Australians, whether it's the police union, everybody, just to
allow this due process to follow course," he said.
But Queensland Police Union vice president Denis Fitzpatrick
said getting a second opinion would be a waste of time.
"I am very confident that this independent review will come up
with exactly the same conclusions of Leanne Clare," he said.
Mr Fitzpatrick would not say whether he thought Mr Beattie had
pushed the DPP into handing over the file, but said: "The premier's
obviously sacrificed principles for political expediency."
Opposition legal affairs spokesman Mark McArdle also expressed
concerns about political interference.
"Ms Clare needs to explain why she has now changed her
position," he said.