In Melbourne last week, an astonishing video showing police bashing and threatening a suspect in order to “gather evidence” was shown in an Office of Police Integrity hearing. The emergence of the crude police tactics generated a great deal of media and public anger – not against the police but the “fairness” of the legal forum that produced the video.

In Townsville yesterday, a coroner found that a police officer was responsible for the death of an Aboriginal man on Palm Island after a kicking assault which split the man’s liver in two. But it now seems unlikely that the Queensland DPP will be able to proceed with charges against the policeman because of different evidentiary standards between an inquest and a criminal trial.

The face of Australia 2006? When police bash suspects or kill an Aborigine, not only is the law apparently incapable of dealing with the offenders but the media and public support is in favour of … the offenders.

Peter Fray

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