Fiji police investigate brutal beating

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 19:12 05/03/2013

Video of one of the men being terribly attacked in Fiji. WARNING: CONTAINS DISTURBING MATERIAL.

Fiji Epeli Qaraniqio
PRISONER: Epeli Qaraniqio.

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Fiji police have launched an investigation into a horrific video showing the beating of a prisoner.

The 9-minute, 11-second video has been condemned by Amnesty International which earlier said the footage was consistent with information they have received on how the Fiji police and military have treated runaway prisoners.

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua this evening said every one in Fiji was “disturbed to see the video that has emerged of what appears to be the abuse of two men who, at this stage, we understand to be recaptured prisoners.”

A thorough investigation to establish the circumstances of this incident has been ordered, he said.

Naivalurua said that some of the international reporting on this incident was wrong.

“We know that the men who appear in this video are not the prisoners who escaped from Naboro last year. We have already established this.”

When the video appeared early this morning sources involved in its release, and several anti-regime blogsites said one of the men being beaten was escaped prisoner Epeli Qaraniqio who was captured in September four days after escaping.

He was so severely beaten his leg had to be amputated. Fiji's military claimed he had lost his leg due to diabetes.

There was another escape in November by three men including bank-robber Iowane Benedito, 24.

His capture was announced 10 days later and when he was bought to court he was on crutches and in evident pain.

It is now known the beaten man is Benedito.

Naivalurua said Fijian security agencies have worked tirelessly over the past few years to give protection and security to ordinary Fijians who suffered through constant home evasions, robberies and violent and wanton crimes.

“These crimes were perpetrated by a group of criminals with impunity and who had absolutely no regard for lives of ordinary Fijians, respect for basic human dignity and the law.”

Shot by someone in authority, the video shows a man being beaten with heavy sticks and a truncheon, as well as being sexually brutalised. Another man is also seen being attacked and an officer is heard saying: "set the dog on him."

The dog hauls the handcuffed man across the ground.

The beatings are administered by plain clothed men speaking Bauan - the official language of Fiji - and at one point one of the men says, as he is beating the person; "you have given us so much work..."

He taunts the man: "You going to escape again?"

To which the man says "no".

The officers accuse the man in the ute of "planning this escape" - they say in Fijian: "This escape was your doing - you planned it."

As he is being hit, the officers as saying "Dro tale, dro..." which means "escape again, escape..." while beating his legs.

One of Fiji's national heroes, former All Black winger Joe Rokocoko, has spoken out against it.

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"Really sad/upset to see some of our people in the Pacific (Fiji) being tortured/humiliated in a manner no one deserves," he tweeted.

"Pray 4 change."

Amnesty New Zealand executive director Grant Bayldon said torture was unacceptable under any circumstances and those responsible should be brought to justice.

"The humiliation of the men and their injuries which are also evident in the video is very serious. Forced to undress and harassed by a dog, as men nearby laugh, it is difficult to watch. The subsequent brutal beating with batons is harrowing. It is torture."

Fiji has been under military rule since December 2006. It has been marred by a number of incidents of brutality towards civilians, several of which have resulted in death.

The Fijian government has promised democracy restoring elections by late next year.

- Stuff

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