This story is from AAP

PM 'understands' Palm Island anger

PRIME Minister John Howard says he can understand the feelings of people about a decision not to charge a policeman over the death of an Aboriginal man on Palm Island off north Queensland.

Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36, died in police custody in November 2004 in an incident which has sparked widespread public outrage.

In September this year, State deputy coroner Christine Clements ruled that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley caused Mulrunji's death, but Director of Public Prosecutions Leanne Clare has since ruled no charges would be laid.

Premier Peter Beattie announced there would be an independent judicial review of the decision and appointed Brisbane criminal lawyer Peter Davis and former Chief Judge of the District Court Pat Shanahan.

But Mr Shanahan this week excused himself following claims he had a conflict of interest after it was revealed Mr Shanahan was on a panel that appointed Ms Clare as DPP in 1999.

The state Government is still searching for a replacement but Premier Peter Beattie has refused to rule out a Queenslander despite the objections of Palm Islanders who want an independent person from interstate.

In an exclusive interview with Brisbane's Sunday Mail on Friday, Mr Howard said he understood their concerns.

"I think it would be a good idea if the Queensland Government found another person outside the state to get involved," Mr Howard was quoted as saying.