Friday, February 17, 2012

Police lie to cover for each other, claims former homeless man who was bashed in Queen St Mall

A FORMER homeless man bashed by police in Brisbane's Queen St Mall has urged the young victim of an alleged Gold Coast police assault to fight for justice.

But Bruce Rowe, who launched Queensland's first successful private criminal prosecution against police, warns Noa Begic faces "a long, hard road ahead of him". Mr Rowe, 71, said his own lengthy - and ongoing - battle for justice was frustrated by a police "code of silence" which he believed still existed. "They will lie to protect each other," he said.

Mr Rowe, an engineering graduate who became homeless after the death of his wife of 41 years, was held down and assaulted by police in the mall in 2006 and charged with obstruction and disobeying a direction.

He launched a rare private prosecution after police cleared the five officers involved and the Court of Appeal overturned his conviction.

Last February, the officer who kneed Mr Rowe, Constable Benjamin Arndt, was found guilty of common assault and ordered to pay $3250 in a fine and legal costs. He has launched a District Court appeal. The CMC is believed to be close to completing an investigation into the officers involved.

Mr Rowe said he had seen the video footage of the Begic incident, obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail, and it was "appalling". He said it had brought up chilling memories of his own ordeal.

"You can't see him (on the video) fighting back or doing anything yet they (the police) are getting stuck into him which is very similar to what happened in my case," he said. "I never resisted and never touched them but they got stuck into me, too.

"Even if he (Mr Begic) has sworn at them or whatever, I can't see any justification whatsoever for punching him while he is laying there in handcuffs. It's appalling."

Mr Rowe said it was fortunate there was video footage of the incident, since he won justice for his assault only by requisitioning CCTV footage from the Brisbane City Council.

"(Mr Begic) should absolutely go for it and fight for justice but I would say he has a long, hard road ahead of him," he said. "My case has been going for nearly six years and I'm still fighting."

Mr Rowe said he was "absolutely disgusted" by Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson's assertion that police could be justified in punching people in the head.


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