Civilian Not Guilty Of Manslaughter In Tonga Jailhouse Killing

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Prison detainee guilty of assault in Kiwi policeman’s death

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, May 30, 2014) – A jury today found Semisi Kalisitiane Manu not guilty of manslaughter, but convicted him on an alternative charge of grievous bodily harm in relation to Kali Fungavaka’s death.

Manu who is on bail will be sentenced by Mr Justice Cato on July 3.

The seven-member jury delivered their verdict at 4:30pm this afternoon, after over three-hours of deliberation in chambers, at the Nuku’alofa Supreme Court.

Manu was a detainee at the Nuku’alofa Police station on the night of August 17, 2012 when he punched the deceased who was also detained in prison cell 7.

Police accused

Meanwhile, the judge will deliver his verdict on the five accused policemen Inspector Kelepi Hala‘ufia and Police Constables Salesi Maile, Tevita Vakalahi, Manu Tu’ivai, Fatai Faletau on Friday, June 6.

Kali, a New Zealand police officer who was fatally injured in police custody died on August 23, 2012 at Vaiola Hospital.

Evidence in court revealed the cause of death was blunt force head trauma after suffering major injuries that included multiple skull fractures, subdural hemorrhage and contusions to his brain.

The jury trial comes to an end after two-weeks at the Supreme Court.

Family

Kali Fungavaka’s mother Rosemary and two of his cousins from New Zealand, were in court this afternoon to hear the verdict.

"I feel happy about it because its not a lenient one," said Rosemary, who offered her hand to Manu outside the court when he approached them following the verdict.

She has been coming from Auckland to Tonga for the trials over the last two months with the assistance of victim support, and said she intended to return to hear the verdict for the police accused on June 6.

"More important for me is the police because they are working for the government, and that’s the one I’m here for to the end."

She said her son Kali, was a good police officer serving the Manukau community. "He’s done a lot for a lot of people and mostly for his children and we want this to end for them," she said.

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