Last year’s horrific incident that rocked the Island Kingdom of Tonga after the 38 years old New Zealand Policeman, Kali Kakala Peaua Fungavaka died in the hands of Tongan police officers began its preliminary inquiry today February 25 – 27.
In the magistrate court this afternoon the Crown prosecutor, Sione Sisifa in his presentation alleged that all Police officers Inspector Kelepi Hala’ufia, Police Constable Manu Tu’ivai, Salesi Maile, Fatai Faletau and Tevita Vakalahi at different time and places took turn in beating up Kali Fungavaka with their police torches causing him grievous bodily harm.
The beatings were made to Fungavaka’s head, stomach and at one stage he was strangled and punched in the face according to Matangitonga report.
The Crown told the court that Kali Fungavaka was arrested by Officers Fatai Faletau and Salesi Maile from the Timeout Bar after he came out with his relative Tavake Paea.
They cannot be able to get Fungavaka into the Police vehicle so the officers walked him to the Police Station and while on their way Fatai Faletau allegedly hit Fungavaka on his head with the police torch and the victim fell to the ground.
At the police station, the Crown said that Inspector Kelepi Hala’ufia not only struck Fungavaka with his police torch but he purportedly strangled him before putting into another room.
Salesi and Fatai were said to not only have dragged Fungavaka and locked him up in cell number 7 but have repeatedly stomped on his face with their boot according to the Online Newspaper Matangitonga.
He was then punched by Kalisitiane Manu a civilian that was already in the cell where Fungavaka fell with his head onto the cement floor.
He was only taken to the hospital at 6am and died on the 23rd of August 2012.
Andre Manu one of the 32 witnesses called by the Prosecutor told the court that he saw Inspector Hala’ufia stabbing Fungavaka on his stomach with his police torch and it took up about 20 minutes for them to beat him inside the police station.
The court heard that Fungavaka was reacted and swore in English at the police officers while they approached the Police Station on their way from the bar.
All the five Tongan police officers and the civilian charged with manslaughter in connection with Fungavaka’s death.
Police Officers Fatai, Salesi, and civilian Semisi Manu are being represented by counsel Mele Kioa while Kelepi Hala’ufia is represented by Palu Taufateau, and counsel ‘Ofa Pouono acted for constable Tevita Vakalahi.
Kali Fungavaka was in Tonga in August 2012 to attend his grandfather’s funeral in which he was one of the pall bearers.
Her mother Rosemary and his wife Audra Watson emotionally attended the court hearing today.
The magistrate court will return tomorrow with more witnesses called by the Crown Prosecutor.