Fiji Police Commissioner Accused Of Obstructing Investigation

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Groenewald: South African involved in crash has diplomatic immunity

By Talebula Kate

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 7, 2015) – Police Chief of Intelligence and Investigations ACP Henry Brown has confirmed that a report was lodged alleging the Commissioner of Police Ben Groenewald obstructed a police investigation involving a foreign diplomat.

"I can confirm the investigation file with regards to a report made against the Commissioner of Police is in my office," ACP Brown said. He said investigators were continuing their work and details would be released later.

Meanwhile Mr Groenewald said there would be a full investigation on the 59-year-old diplomat from the office of the South African High Commission who was involved in an accident that claimed the life of Ashneel Singh, 26, last Friday.

[PIR editor’s note: Fiji Times reported that ‘The South African High Commission has expressed its sympathies and condolences to the family of Ashneel Singh, 26, who was killed in a fatal road accident last Friday.’]

He was replying to comments by the family of the deceased that Mr Groenewald interfered with police investigation in releasing the diplomat.

"The problem these people cannot understand is that the person involved has diplomatic immunity in terms of the Vienna Convention," Mr Groenewald said.

He said Article 29 of the Convention says the diplomat is inviolable and cannot be arrested or detained.

"These people have misinterpreted. He is not free, the only way he can go through the judiciary is on a diplomatic level," he said. "Articles 31 and 32 of the Vienna Convention is very clear; it can only be done if the sending state waives his immunity, then he can be charged here," he added.

He said this was a diplomatic issue and the issue had been dealt with by the Fijian Minister for Foreign Affairs with the South African Minister for Foreign Affairs. "I never said the case is withdrawn or that he is free," Mr Groenewald said.

Meanwhile, Praveen Singh, an uncle of the dead man said they lodged a complaint against the Police Commissioner on Sunday.

He said they had not put anything in writing, but they spoke to the Inspector in charge at the Cental Police Station and expressed their disappointment on the issue.

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