Tonga Prosecution Opposes Release In Fungavaka Case

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Magistrate found insufficient evidence against 3 officers

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 24, 2013) – The Crown's appeal against the dropping of manslaughter charges against three policemen, who had been charged in relation to the death of New Zealand policeman Kali Fungavaka, is being heard this week in the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court, before Mr. Justice Charles Cato.

The three police constables, Fatai Faletau, Tevita Vakalahi and Manu Tu'ivai, were in court today, June 24, to hear the Crown's appeal against their release in April by Magistrate Salesi Mafi who had found there was insufficient evidence against them.

The Crown Prosecutor Sione Sisifa completed his oral submission, while 'Ofa Pouono the counsel for the defendants will make his oral response tomorrow, June 25.

Sione Sisifa reiterated the Crown's position that all five accused police officers were in a joint enterprise at the Nuku'alofa Police Station to commit the unlawful act of manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm to the victim, which was horribly wrong.

Justice Cato raised his concern and queried that all the accused who were present had failed to do anything to alert or stop the violence. The prosecutor answered, yes they did nothing.

Compound effect

He told the court he suspected that the Magistrate had discharged Faletau, Vakalahi and Tu'ivai after he found there was no joint enterprise and he then assessed the circumstances of each defendant individually and was not satisfied the alleged assaults by the three released had contributed to the cause of death.

He believed that the Magistrate had taken a narrow view of Dr. Fintan Garavan's evidence of the post mortem examination of the victim. The doctor had made an extensive written report and oral evidence in court and said the major injury was to the head a fractured skull, but all other injuries had a compound effect to the death, said the prosecutor.

He also pointed out certain evidence of identification from some witnesses, who had identified the three accused and the alleged assaults they had committed.

Committal

The court will also hear a second appeal by the accused Police Inspector Kelepi Hala'ufia, who is appealing against the committal of his case for trial at the Supreme Court.

The accused who was present in court is one of the remaining three accused, including police constable Salesi Maile and civilian Semisi Kalisitiane Manu, who had their cases committed to the Supreme Court for trial, after the Magistrate found sufficient evidence against them.

Hala'ufia's counsel Palu Taufateau will make her oral arguments tomorrow.

At the end of the appeal hearing the judge is expected to set a date to announce his judgment.

The victim, Kali Fungavaka, a New Zealand policeman, died at Vaiola Hospital in August last year, after he was fatally injured in a prison cell at the Nuku'alofa Police Station.

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