Tongan police manslaughter charges dropped
Two Tongan policemen linked to the fatal beating of an Auckland policeman have had manslaughter charges against them dropped and have been freed on bail pending simple assault charges.
Otahuhu constable Kali Fungavaka had been in Tonga for his grandfather's funeral when, on the evening of August 17, he was arrested outside a Nuku'alofa bar.
He was allegedly assaulted by Tongan constables Salesi Maile and Fatai Faletau before he was taken to police cells, where another man, Semisi Kalisitiane Manu, then also allegedly assaulted him. Fungavaka was taken to Vaiola Hospital and died a week later.
Last Friday Tonga Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee announced that Manu would have the capital murder charge reduced to manslaughter while the policemen's assault charges would be increased to the same charge.
But the Matangi Tonga news website reported today that the Tonga's Crown Law office has refused to lay the manslaughter charges.
Maile and Faletau received bail of $100 each with sureties of $80 each and are not allowed to travel outside of Tongatapu, Tonga's main island.
Manu remains in police custody, facing a manslaughter charge.
O'Fee said this afternoon that the situation was frustrating.
"It is not my decision or any of my officers' of what charge we lay, the decision is made by the Attorney General's office," he told Matangi Tonga.
"And although the Acting Solicitor General was initially comfortable with our decision to charge them with manslaughter the Solicitor General, as he is quite entitled to, has decided to see more of the pathology report before he makes that final decision," he said.
"It was a surprise to me, and it is nobody's fault this confusion has come about simply that is the system under which we operate.
"The charges against the coppers are back to the common assault at this stage, while the prisoner faces manslaughter."
Solicitor General 'Aminiasi Kefu told Matangi Tonga that the decision not to proceed with manslaughter charges was made because full evidence was not yet received.
"The autopsy report has not been provided so we have only verbal information at this stage."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have the new speed limit rules made you change your driving habits?