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All Palm Is accused to defend charges

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 30 November 2004

The solicitor for a group of men arrested over last Friday's Palm Island riot, sparked by the death of a local man in police custody, says all will be defending the charges at next week's bail hearing.

Meanwhile, it is unclear exactly when the funeral of 36-year-old Cameron Doomadgee will be held because the state coroner has called for another autopsy on his body.

Solicitor Kevin Rose yesterday sought an adjournment so that he could better prepare his brief.

Magistrate David Glasgow addressed each of the men separately, but he had the same direction for all.

Their hearing was adjourned to next Monday and they will be held in custody until then.

While acknowledging the gravity of the charges, Mr Rose says he will be requesting bail for all 16 men detained over the rampage that left the north Queensland Aboriginal community without a court house, police station or police barracks.

The charges include rioting, arson, going armed with intent to cause fear and assault.

Mr Rose says the rioting charges are particularly serious.

"Riot simplistically is three years, but if it involves with it the destruction of a building, it's life imprisonment maximum," he said.

Two 18-year-old men charged with burglary are yet to face court.

A large group of supporters gathered in the courtroom for yesterday's hearing.

Mr Rose earlier warned that some of those being held may need to be put on suicide watch, but that having the matter heard at a later date may improve their chances of bail.

Funeral preparations

The Queensland Government says police will be "sensitive" to community emotions during the funeral of Mr Doomadgee, who died in custody on Palm Island.

Police Minister Judy Spence says it is also unknown how many officers will still be on the island at that time.

Scores of re-inforcements were sent to the north Queensland community after the riot.

Premier Peter Beattie says he discussed the funeral with Indigenous leaders at the weekend.

"They've been given an understanding that we will be as sensitive as we possibly can in the events leading up to and during the funeral," he said.

"We will do everything we can to ensure that there is as much respect as we can for the community during the funeral, that we do nothing to incite any strong emotions."

Mr Beattie says the Palm Island community has a difficult future.

The Queensland Government has put forward a five-point plan for the community to restore peace, rebuild destroyed buildings and manage alcohol.

Mr Beattie says it will not be easy.

"It's got a difficult future and I'm not going to pretend otherwise, but if the council and the elders can work in partnership with the Government, we're prepared to try and make that future as bright and as peaceful as we can," he said.

"Now we can't do it without their help. The future of Palm Island rests in their hands."

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