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Human rights group to monitor Palm Is inquest

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

The federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) will keep a close eye on the coroner's inquest into the death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee.

State coroner Michael Barnes will today preside over a preliminary hearing on Palm Island in north Queensland to decide when and where the inquest will be held and to sort through a list of witnesses.

The death of 36-year-old Mr Doomadgee in police custody last November sparked a riot in which the island's police station, watch house and courtroom were destroyed.

Queensland's anti-discrimination commissioner Susan Booth has told ABC Radio's "AM" program there is also interest in the case at a state level.

"Where there has been such a serious and terrible incident as a death in custody and there are important reports such as the report on deaths in custody that issues around those very, very serious matters, of course are matters that a human rights agency," she said.

"Whether it's our federal agency or a state agency, we need to be keeping an eye on them."

Meanwhile, Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson says he is not expecting any trouble at the coroner's hearing on Palm Island.

Commissioner Atkinson expects the hearing to be peaceful but will not reveal whether extra police reinforcements have been sent to the island.

"We'll have an adequate police capability to deal with any situation that might arise on Palm Island at any time," he said.

The hearing will be convened outdoors because the island's courthouse was destroyed by rioters in the aftermath of Mr Doomadgee's death.

Lawyers for the man's family, the Queensland Police Service and other interested parties are expected to make applications to appear at the inquest.

The coroner will also take time to view the scene of Mr Doomadgee's arrest.

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