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Coroner yet to rule on location of death-in-custody inquest

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

By Nick Harmsen on Palm Island

A large crowd has packed a makeshift court room on Palm Island in north Queensland for a preliminary hearing into the death in custody of an island man.

The 36-year-old man, whose family has asked he be referred to by his tribal name Mulrinji, died in the police watchhouse last November, sparking a riot.

Coroner Michael Barnes is presiding over today's hearing, which is sorting out details of the inquest into the death.

The court has heard more than 50 statements of evidence and 27 transcripts of recorded interviews have been collected.

The coroner is yet to decide if the inquest will be held on Palm Island or in Townsville.

Meanwhile, a police gun that was lost during the riots last November has been found.

The missing rifle was referred to at the bail hearing of 19 men originally charged over the riot.

Police Prosecutor Julia Cook said there were fears for police safety on Palm Island because of the missing weapon.

Queensland Police Media has confirmed the firearm has been found.

The ABC understands it was hidden during the riot by one of the police officers holed up in the barracks.

The gun was located nearly a month later when the site was being cleared.

The police station, barracks and court house were destroyed in a fire bomb attack during the riots.

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