Cover-up revealed in police shooting

Issue 

By Alex Bainbridge

HOBART — A new investigation into the police shooting of Joe Gilewicz in 1991 has been ordered by the state government, after new evidence and further allegations of a police cover-up were presented in the manuscript of a forthcoming book. The book, by former journalist Paul Tapp, is based on extensive examination of the evidence and on allegations by former police ballistics expert Stan Hanuszewicz.

Hanuszewicz told Green Left Weekly that a royal commission was needed and that the inquiry by the director of public prosecutions is not enough.

Gilewicz was the first person shot dead by police here in "modern times", according to the Hobart Mercury. The shooting took place after a siege at Gilewicz's house on July 16, 1991.

Police claim that Gilewicz was threatening police by driving a tracked excavator towards them and that he fired a rifle and shotgun at police: police killed him in self-defence.

Hanuszewicz was called to the scene to investigate, but found no evidence that Gilewicz had fired a rifle or shotgun. Hanuszewicz also told Green Left Weekly that, based on the evidence he did find, it was unlikely Gilewicz had even been holding the rifle.

Police photos after the shooting showed that the tracked excavator was parked next to the house (not in the position claimed by police) and that there were no tracks in the mud even though there had been overnight drizzle (indicating it had not been moved).

Hanuszewicz also claims that he was asked by a superior police officer to falsify evidence. He claims he originally "went along with that, but not for long".

Following Gilewicz's death, there was a coronial inquiry described by the Mercury as "the most comprehensive and lengthy inquest held in the state", which found that the slaying was justified but unnecessary. Hanuszewicz said that the inquest was a cover-up, in which he personally was castigated and officially discredited.

He maintains that the large number of inconsistencies, violations of police procedure and other suspicious aspects can be explained only by describing the investigation as a cover-up. These included: inconsistencies in the affidavits taken during the investigation; the absence of any evidence that Gilewicz had fired a gun and other examples of forensic evidence contradicting official police claims; the violation of "basic crime scene procedures"; and the exclusion of Hanuszewicz and other independent witnesses from the autopsy, which was conducted in secret.

Former ALP parliamentarian John White, who was acting police minister at the time of the killing, welcomed the new inquiry. He claims that community concern remains and that "any way you view those facts, something is wrong" in that police killed Gilewicz at his home while there was no hostage.

The Police Association of Tasmania said that further inquiry into the incident is unnecessary since it has already been investigated. The association claimed that the new allegations would be stressful for police involved.

Hanuszewicz told Green Left Weekly, "If they're stressed about what comes out, so be it. They are the ones who perjured themselves in court."

Hanuszewicz believes the reasons for the cover-up involve police connection with drugs. Gilewicz was a drug grower. Hanuszewicz claims that Gilewicz had been threatened by police and had told his wife and others "Something is going to happen to me" prior to his shooting.

Hanuszewicz has called for a royal commission into police corruption in Tasmania.

He reiterated a call he has previously made for a national register of corrupt police. The register should include police who have been found guilty of criminal offences and been sacked or police who have resigned after corruption allegations are raised against them, he argued. At the moment, police found guilty of corruption sometimes get jobs in the police forces of other states, other areas of the criminal justice system or as security guards.

Hanuszewicz has been seeking justice for Gilewicz for years. He has spoken to many prominent federal and state politicians, including four premiers, two state attorneys general, the former director of public prosecutions and federal parliamentarians.

According to Hanuszewicz, only Greens MHA Peg Putt has taken his calls seriously, trying to get the manuscript of Tapp's book tabled in parliament and supporting the call for a royal commission.

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