The coroner in the third inquest into the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island in 2004, Queensland deputy chief magistrate Brian Hine, has handed down an “open finding”. This means no criminal charges will be laid against senior sergeant Chris Hurley.
Delivering his report on May 14, Hine cited the unreliability of witnesses, who changed their stories many times throughout the various investigations and inquiries, as the reason for his inability to make a definitive finding. But he also said there was evidence of collusion by police officers to protect Hurley.
Queensland Murri leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson was in Townsville observing the recent inquest hearings.
“This decision by Hine is the most appalling example of judicial cowardice”, he told Green Left Weekly.
“Hine found conclusively that Hurley had punched Mulrunji three times. Hine found that police had colluded to present a falsified version of events to support their mate Hurley.
“So after six years, three full-scale inquests, and after sustained political action across the nation, we still have the murder of an innocent Aboriginal man without any person convicted or jailed.”
Aboriginal people and supporters will rally against the coroner's findings at midday on May 19 at state parliament in Brisbane.