22 Dec 2005

Australian lawyers seek compensation for family of Tongan detainee

9:38 am on 22 December 2005

The lawyer representing the family of a Tongan man who fell to his death at a Melbourne dentention centre says he'd been a resident in Australia for over 17 years.

Fifty-three-year-old Viliami Tanginoa climbed a basketball pole at the detention centre where he remained for eight hours before plunging head first to his death in December 2000.

Lawyer Dina Tutungi says there was a blatant disregard for Mr Tanginoa, who was protesting his imminent deportation.

"There is video footage of him at the top of the basketball pole, video cuts out and resumes and he's dead on the ground in a pool of blood, there's also video footage of the operations manager bouncing a basketball in the vicinity of Mr Tanginoa"

Dina Tutungi with Slater and Gordon says they're seeking compensation from the federal government and the Australasian Correctional Mangement or ACM the former detention centre operator.

The family are very traumatised, they very angry, they're upset that the coroners findings vindicated the families worst fears that ACM contributed to his death and they seek compensation for the distress and trauma that they have suffered.

The first legal case in Australia alleging wrongful death of a detainee.