Tongan police 'stomped on' Auckland officer

Last updated 20:31 25/02/2013
Kali Fungavaka
Fairfax NZ
BASHED: Kali Fungavaka.

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Tongan cops bashed a South Auckland police officer with a torch and stomped on his head during a vicious beating, a Tongan court has been told.

Kali Fungavaka died in hospital in Nuku'alofa after he was allegedly assaulted while in custody at the central police station there on August 17 last year.

The six men charged with manslaughter, with an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm, are Inspector Kelepi Hala'ufia along with four police constables Manu Tu'ivai, Tevita Vakalahi, Salesi Maile, Fatai Faletau and Kalisitiane Manu, who was a detainee at the time.

Fungavaka was in the country for a family funeral and had been arrested for public drunkenness.

The Crown alleges the six accused beat Fungavaka several times, including on route to the police station and in the cells, Matangi Tonga reported.

Crown Prosecutor Sione Sisifa told the Tongan court the accused hit the victim over the head and on body with a torch, strangled him and punched him in the face, the Tongan paper reported.

Fungavaka had been taken by foot to the central police station after being arrested outside a bar just after midnight for public drunkenness, Sisifa said.

The inspector allegedly strangled Kali at the police station before all five accused officers beat him and two of the men stomped on his face, Matangi Tonga reported from the court.

Police dragged Fungavaka to the cell where he fell and hit his head on the cement wall and floor.

Fungavaka was taken to Vaiola Hospital about 6am.

He died on August 23.

A doctor who examined his body told the court he had injuries from being beaten.
Witness Andre Manu, who is the father of accused Semisi, told the court he saw two arresting officer escorting Fungavaka to prison.

He said he saw Hala'ufia bash Fungavaka's head with a torch while Faletau and Maile were still holding him, Matangi Tonga reported.

"It was a big bang when the torch hit his head. I stood there for about 15 to 20 minutes and I could hear the sound of them beating him."

Ashley Fua, who was the acting officer in charge at the police station, said Fungavaka had been swearing and threatening police while being escorted to the station.

All of the accused are currently represented by the same counsel.

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It was the first day of a preliminary inquiry into the death of Fungavaka.

Fungavaka's family members, including his wife Audra, mother Rosemary and younger brother Bishop, were at the court house in Fasi.

The inquiry is scheduled to last three days and 32 witnesses are expected to testify.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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