The Northern Territory’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption has announced he will step aside from investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death in custody of an indigenous teenager in Yuendumu.
Ken Fleming QC has faced criticism following comments he made at a march in Alice Springs last week.
Mr Fleming said at the rally, “One of the most important messages here today is black lives matter – anyone who says contrary to that is guilty of corruption behaviour.”
Former NT Attorney-General Daryl Manzie was among those critical of Mr Fleming speaking.
“Black lives matter, but every life matters – we don’t say some lives matter more than others,” Mr Manzie told Territory FM Radio.
“Our laws and our processes here mean that every one of those are just as important as everyone else.”
“I just find it an unbelievable statement first of all and it shows a lack of knowledge of the Northern Territory but secondly, the inference is that most people don’t care about black people which is just garbage.”
Mr Manzie further questioned why the Commissioner was overseeing the police investigation given his comments.
“That comment could be seen by some as an impression of bias and it could also be corrupting the views of future jury members and so I would say to the Commissioner – remember what he is now, he is not a – he is now heading up a government instrumentality and he has to be seen to be absolutely above everything.”
In a statement, Mr Fleming said, “From the moment this tragic incident occurred I have set out to give my time to both the NT Police and the Central Australian and Warlpiri Aboriginal communities, in a balanced manner.
“”My intention when participating in the community meetings in Central Australia was to explain our ability to independently look into these matters to the communities who are upset and seeking the truth.
“I accept that some of my comments have led to the perception among some observers that I am closer to one side than another on this matter, and so I will no longer be involved in it.
Mr Fleming will now not participate in decisions or recommendations in relation to this matter.
“The Office of the ICAC’s ongoing involvement in the NT Police investigation will be led by a team of specialist investigators, lawyers and technical experts with significant experience managing major crime investigations, as well as serious and complex investigations.”
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