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Palm Island to host death-in-custody inquest

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 8 February 2005

By Nick Harmsen on Palm Island

The inquest into the death-in-custody of a Palm Island man will go ahead on the north Queensland island, but some witnesses will be able to give their testimony from the mainland.

Last November the death of the 36-year-old man in the Palm Island watchhouse inflamed tensions between locals and police, eventually leading to a riot.

The man's family has asked he be referred to by his tribal name Mulrinji.

Today, hundreds packed the makeshift court house on the island where Coroner Michael Barnes explained the details of the inquest.

Lawyers for the man's family argued the whole process should be carried out on the island so justice could be seen to be done.

But lawyers for the police officers involved in his arrest successfully argued it would be too great a security risk for those men to return.

The police will give their testimonies in Townsville, along with at least five expert witnesses.

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