By Mark Todd in BrisbaneDecember 7, 2004
The alleged ringleader of last month's Palm Island riot has been
freed on bail as the activist Murrandoo Yanner castigated the
country's Aboriginal leadership, saying the north Queensland
community had been abandoned.
A packed Townsville District Court erupted in applause yesterday
as Lex Wotton, 37, was bailed until March 10. Eighteen other men
were freed on their own undertaking. The police prosecutor, Julia
Cook, opposed bail, telling the Chief Magistrate, Marshall Irwin,
the accused had threatened to kill police and had pelted them with
The riot, in which the police station was fire-bombed and the
courthouse burned, followed the release of autopsy results for
Cameron Doomadgee, who died in police custody shortly after his
arrest for public drunkenness.
The report found he had four broken ribs and died from a
ruptured liver - injuries consistent with his falling on a hard
The men were released on nine conditions, including that they do
not return to Palm Island or attend Mr Doomadgee's funeral,
expected to be held this week.
Mr Yanner, a cousin of Mr Doomadgee, welcomed the release of the
men but was disappointed at the "almost cruel" conditions. He said
the direction not to attend the funeral was likely to further
"In our culture it brings great shame and is a lack of respect
to miss the funeral," he said outside the Townsville
Mr Yanner criticised Aboriginal leaders for not speaking out
more stridently about Mr Doomadgee's death. "Shame, shame, shame,"
he said. "Where the hell is the Aboriginal leadership of
"If they can't get off their arse and get to Townsville and Palm
Island then at least they can pick up the phone and do some
interviews. It's pathetic." Mr Yanner would not identify anyone but
said there were "clearly 10 or 20 big shots missing in action