Nine arrests for island riot

Source: The Age November 28 2004

By Marc Moncrief

Nine men were arrested yesterday morning on Palm Island, off Queensland, on 20 charges relating to Friday's riot by hundreds of residents.

The nine, aged 26 to 54, will appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court tomorrow. The charges include arson, assault and riot causing property damage. Several other men are being sought.

Yesterday morning, Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence said police anticipated further violence after their headquarters, the courthouse, a police officer's home and a stolen police car were burned on Friday by residents incensed over the death of 36-year-old Cameron Doomadgee. Mr Doomadgee died on November 19 after a struggle with police.

Anger flared after a coroner's report was read at a public meeting on Palm Island, detailing the injuries from which Mr Doomadgee died. Mr Doomadgee was found to have suffered four broken ribs and a ruptured liver.

Some residents, contractors, police and public servants were evacuated on Friday night following the violence. About 80 additional officers were flown from Townsville, Cairns and Brisbane.

Premier Peter Beattie rejected suggestions that large numbers of police should have been deployed before the autopsy report was read. He said such action would have been provocative.

He criticised the Palm Island Community Council for failing to explain the coroner's findings to residents.

Mr Beattie said the Crime and Misconduct Commission would hold an inquiry into the death.

But Aboriginal leader Sam Watson said the Palm Island community had to be consulted and involved in any investigation to find out what happened while Mr Doomadgee was in custody.

- with AAP