The South Australian Government has been ordered to pay $724,000 to 10 people involved in a protest at the Beverley uranium mine a decade ago.
The Supreme Court has found the nine uranium protesters and a cameraman were assaulted and all but one falsely imprisoned in a shipping container.
The Government fought the case on behalf of the police officers who arrested the group in the outback.
Eight protesters, the TV cameraman and a girl, 11, sued the Government for assault and false imprisonment over their treatment by police during the protest in May 2000.
Supreme Court Justice Timothy Anderson found police used unnecessary force against all 10, using batons and capsicum spray and locking the nine adults in the container.
He awarded $724,000 but noted it was less than the plaintiffs had sought.
Justice Anderson said using the oppressive, degrading and dirty shipping container was a breach of human rights.
He also condemned SA Treasurer Kevin Foley and Police Minister Michael Wright for making antagonistic and provocative comments about the case and the Government for its failure to settle the matter, despite a report by the Police Complaints Authority confirming the use of unnecessary force.
Mr Foley was quoted as calling the group a “bunch of feral protesters”.
The court heard the Government rejected an offer to settle for $600,000 in the weeks before the trial.
Cameraman Jamie Holland says he was held in the container without food, water or a toilet for three hours.
“Inhumane. It shouldn’t happen in Australia. It shouldn’t happen anywhere,” he said.
One of the protesters Lucinda White says Mr Foley was wrong to have made a judgment based on appearance and she is calling for an apology.
“There are real issues here and uranium mining is a really big issue in South Australia,” she said.
“Regardless of how people look they have a right to protest and a right to be safe, not bashed, beaten and falsely imprisoned by the police,” she said.