Sam Watson: Heads must roll in Qld police

Sam Watson.

Brisbane, June 18, 2010 - “The only way to find out the truth about the behavior of the Queensland police hierarchy in the cover-ups that followed the November 2004 killing of Mulrunji on Palm Island is to institute an independent commission of inquiry run by a respected interstate figure,” Sam Watson, well-known Murri rights activist and Socialist Alliance lead Senate candidate for Queensland said today.

“In the meantime the Queensland Police Service (QPS) hierarchy, beginning with commissioner Robert Atkinson, must be sacked.”

“The best person to conduct the inquiry would be Tony Fitzgerald, who headed the Commission of Inquiry into Official Corruption in Queensland between 1987 and 1989. It is clear from the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC)’s ‘Review of the QPS’s Palm Island Review - released today - that nothing has changed inside the police culture since the days of Bjelke-Peterson and Russ Hinze.”

Watson stressed: “Aboriginal people in this state cannot trust any Queensland institution to get to the bottom of the stinking swamp of racism and complicity that is the Queensland police system. Nearly six years after a black man dies of shocking internal injuries supposedly due to a heavily built policeman ‘falling’ on him, not one Queensland cop has been found guilty of anything.

“Even the CMC review - which comes after three coronial inquiries, the original police investigation and the internal police review of that investigation - can’t bring itself to identify possible criminal charges against those involved in the chain of cover-up.

“CMC chairperson Martin Moynihan has given Queensland Police Commissioner Robert Atkinson 14 days to report back to the CMC on what action he will take against six officers over Mulrunji’s death, but claims that there is insufficient evidence to support criminal charges. If Atkinson’s reply is unsatisfactory, the CMC will ‘apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal to commence disciplinary proceedings’.”

Watson commented: “This in an open invitation to Atkinson to make the six police responsible for the initial inquiry and the subsequent review into sacrificial lambs for the QPS hierarchy. But those who oversaw and defended the behavior of the QPS, from Atkinson down, will get off scot-free.

“What’s more, premier Anna Bligh recently reappointed Atkinson to the job of commissioner - without any reference to the CMC, as she was required to do - and police minister Neil Roberts has said he has full confidence in Atkinson.”

Watson concluded: “The CMC report brings a day of reckoning for the whole corrupt shambles that is policing in Queensland. It would never have happened without the ongoing movement for justice for Mulrunji and his family. It will continue until the blue wall of silence that is the QPS is smashed for ever.”

Contact: Sam Watson 0401 227 443 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0401 227 443      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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