They face charges ranging from arson, serious assault of police and rioting with intent to cause damage to property.

On Sunday 12 people had been charged but police said several more arrests were made overnight, including two 18-year-old men and a 20-year-old man, all charged with burglary.

A 19-year-old man and a 21-year-old man are also being interviewed by police.

Tensions remain high on the island, located just off Townsville on Queensland’s far north coast, following the death in custody of Cameroon Doomadgee, 36, on November 19.

Anger in the local Aboriginal community spilled over after the release of a post-mortem report three days ago which found Mr Doomadgee had four broken ribs and a punctured liver when he died.
A police station, barracks and police houses were torched after residents heard about an autopsy report which said 36-year-old Palm Islander Cameron Doomadgee died from a ruptured liver, while also having four broken ribs and a punctured lung.

According to a report by the Courier Mail newspaper, Coroner Michael Barnes found Mr Doomadgee’s injuries were consistent with a fall on concrete steps said to have occurred during a scuffle as Mr Doomadgee was being lead from a police paddy wagon to the island’s watch-house.

He had been arrested for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

However, Palm Island’s chairwoman Erykah Kyle said she had seen the full autopsy report and that it mentioned heavy pressure or a weight might have been placed on his chest.

The Queensland Premier Peter Beattie flew to Palm Island yesterday, accompanied by Police Minister Judy Spence, in a bid to restore calm.

He brought with him a five-point plan containing measures for restoring law and order, re-establishing grief counselling and mediation, as well as construction of a new police station to replace the one torched during Friday’s riot.

Mr Beattie has also called for an alcohol management plan to be drawn up and put in place by the start of next year.

One local who attended the meeting with the premier described the talks as ‘positive’ on the whole.

“Our only concern with Beattie’s five-point plan was that it was a government imposing a system on us rather than a problem being devised from the community up,” said the man who did not wish to be identified.

Mr Beattie’s plan was met with an open letter from the Aboriginal community saying it was inexcusable Mr Doomadgee had been left unattended in the watch-house until it was too late, and that “the government and the police must accept blame for the current situation.”

A complaint was also made about state of emergency which has been imposed on Palm Island, with 80 armed police reinforcements called in by Premier Beattie.

“Our children are being terrorised; 80 police are not necessary,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, Queensland’s Police Union has demanded that the charges against those accused of firebombing Palm Island’s police station be upgraded to attempted murder.

“Our members were near burnt to death when these people set fire to the building and these people deserve only one place to be – that is brought to justice and placed in prison,” Queensland Police Union acting president Denis said.

According to a report by the Courier Mail, riot police are expected to remain on the island at least until December 3 or 4, when the funeral for Mr Doomadgee is likely to be held.

Civil libertarians are pressing for a second opinion on the death.

Australian Council for Civil Liberties president Terry O’Gorman said a preliminary report was insufficient to address the underlying causes for last Friday’s riot.

“We’ll be urging the Palm Island Community Council today to take urgent steps to obtain a second post mortem opinion from a pathologist outside the state,” Mr O’Gorman said.