Independent police complaints authority sought after prisoner’s 'distressing' death


An independent body should oversee complaints against police, Liberty Victoria said today. This follows the sacking of one officer and disciplining of three more after a man being held was left to die “like a dog” in the rain.

Liberty President George Georgiou SC said Deputy State Coroner Iain West’s comments that there is “no such thing as a minor deprivation of liberty” echoed his organisation’s long-held view that holding a person carries big responsibilities. “All people arrested are required to be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.

Mr West said this was not done when Dandenong Police ignored Gong Ling Tang, 53, after holding him to sober up when his wife reported he was drunk and in breach of a court order. Five officers took no notice of blood coming from his mouth and spread on walls of his cell and his loud moaning.

Mr West described as “confounding” and “deeply distressing” footage of Mr Tang crawling barefooted and then being pushed into the cold, wet night. He died next morning.

Mr Georgiou said the incident came to light through the bravery of interpreter Yu Lipski who spoke out about Mr Tang’s treatment. She received Liberty’s Voltaire Award for her outstanding contribution to free speech.

Coroner West also recommended video and audio recording of statements of police involved with deaths and an independent lawyer be provided by the Department of Justice to observe interviews.  Similar calls have been made, said Mr Georgiou, with no apparent result.

Mr West was highly critical of police failure to properly check Mr Tang and monitor him and said police involved expressed little or no responsibility for any decision or actions.

For further comment please contact Liberty Victoria President, George Georgiou SC or Vice President, Michael Stanton.