Having been so busy lately I haven’t had the opportunity to keep up to date with what’s happening in Australia and I feel terrible that it took the infamous Mike Gogulski to bring the following article to my attention — not to mention that this happened last year and I completely missed it.
Man ‘cooked’ to death in Australian prison van
SYDNEY (AFP) — The family of an Australian Aboriginal elder who died after being “cooked” in the back of a scorching hot prison van may sue after a coroner branded his treatment inhumane.
A coroner Friday described the treatment of the 46-year-old man as a “disgrace” and inhumane, saying he would ask prosecutors to consider criminal charges over his death from heatstroke in Western Australia in January 2008.
The elder, known only as Mr Ward as his first name was withheld for cultural reasons, was transported 360 kilometres (225 miles) to jail in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 F) in a van with faulty air conditioning.
Ward, who was arrested a day earlier for drink driving, spent four hours in the searing heat between the mining towns of Laverton and Kalgoorlie, suffering third-degree burns where his body touched the metal floor, the inquest heard.
Western Australia Coroner Alastair Hope found that Ward was effectively “cooked” to death and heavily criticised the state prisons department, the private security firm that operated the van and the two guards who escorted Ward.
“It is a disgrace that a prisoner in the 21st century, particularly a prisoner who has not been convicted of any crime, was transported for a long distance in high temperatures in this pod,” Hope said.
The hearing was told that when Ward eventually arrived unconscious at hospital in Kalgoorlie, his body was so hot that staff were unable to cool him down. After an ice bath, which failed to save him, he had a body temperature of 41.7 degrees Celsius as opposed to a normal temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.
Take a look at the photo, Mr Ward was no menace to society and was probably a well respected member of his community. He died because he was required by the positive law to play his part as the accused in the theatrics of court proceedings for a crime that is not evil by reason but evil by the decree of government. That is not to say that even if he had been guilty of the typical criminal pass times of pillage and plunder, he would have deserved his fate. Of course we could take a purely superficial analyses and let blame fall against the guards for their negligence rather then question the very system that put Mr Ward into the back of a police van.
And I can’t help but wonder where was the outrage surrounding this death? I’m sure that if this event had unfolded with the death of a white man, there would have been outrage from all corners of this continent.