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Lawyers join calls for SA death inquiry

AAP logoAAP 26/09/2016

A human rights group has joined the calls for an independent inquiry into the death of an indigenous man involved in a violent altercation with prison guards in Adelaide.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) says questions remain over the death of 29-year-old Mr Morrison in hospital on Monday, three days after the incident in the Yatala Labour Prison in which five guards were also injured.

"There appear to be questions about the time it took for the inmate to receive medical attention as well as the time it took to notify his family members of the events surrounding his injuries," ALHR chair Dr Amy Maguire said.

"An independent inquiry is needed to shed light on all of the events that took place following the deceased being taken into custody on remand."

South Australian Correctional Services Minister Peter Malinauskas said Mr Morrison was alleged to have started a violent tussle with the guards while on remand and waiting for a scheduled Magistrates Court video link appearance.

He said the man's death was now being investigated by police and the coroner would also conduct an inquest.

But the man's family has called for an independent investigation with the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement suggesting it be conducted by the Office of Public Integrity.

The Greens have also called for an independent inquiry with SA senator Sarah Hanson-Young adamant a police investigation was insufficient.

Dr Maguire said Mr Morrison's case also highlighted the continuing problem of Aboriginal deaths in custody, 25 years after a royal commission investigated the issue.

"When the royal commission report was released in 1991, 14 per cent of prison inmates were indigenous. Today, the percentage of indigenous inmates is 27 per cent," she said.

"In 1991-1992, there were nine indigenous deaths in custody. In all but one of the 25 years since, there have been at least that many deaths or more."

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