Police minister pardons Hu'atolitoli Prison guards

Tonga Minister of Police, Hon Siosifa Tu’utafaiva has pardoned the prison guards who severely beat an inmate at the Hu’atolitoli Prison on September 6.

He also warned that he would not tolerate it if he would receive further report of guards beating inmates.  

According to an information confirmed to Kaniva News the prison guards: Sione Kakala ‘Ofa of Angaha -‘Eua and Sekope Po’uhila of Longoteme – Tongatapu shackled, terrorized, stomped and kicked an inmate, Paula ‘Ulu’ave,  til he defecated in his pants.

The inmate had to be dragged and washed off in a shower.

Two other guards attended when the beating took place were Kilifi Latu and Letale Masiu but they did not get involved in the beating.

It says, Kilifi Latu stood outside the room where the beating occurred and Letale Masiu was at the scene but left for another duty.

Kaniva News previous report says there were about five prison guards. We have been confirmed there were four but only two who beat the inmate.  

The Hon Minister of Police who is also the Minister for the department of  Prison told Kaniva News he granted the pardon for the prison guards after he received a report from his police officers at Vaini District.

“I ordered a police report to be sent to me as soon as possible after I and PR ‘Isileli Pulu met the victim and the accussed prison guards.  I made it clear at the time that those responsible must be brought to justice,” Hon Tu’utafaiva said in Tongan.

“I checked with the police two days later and they reported to me the inmate has forgiven the prison guards and would not want to take any legal action against them,” Hon Tu’utafaiva added.

Asked whether he was aware of the fact that the inmate was beaten to a point he became repeatedly unconscious and ended up defecating in his pants, Hon Tu’utafaiva agreed saying “but I respected the inmate’s willing to forgive the guards”.

Asked whether an independent investigation should have been established to investigate ‘Ulu’ave’s case due to the severity of what he had gone through, Tu’utafaiva agreed and said “that could be done if anyone would raise it with me.”

PR Pulu told Kaniva News the law has been breached and he was in doubt as to whether the minister was taking the proper procedure or not.

He would talk to the minister regarding his decision to grant the pardon, Pulu added.

“I have raised this in parliament few weeks ago and called on the government this culture of beating inmates in the Tongan prisons must be stopped,” Pulu said.

 According to the history the inmates who were severely beaten in the prison were subsequesntly incarcerated in the pilisone malu (maximum secrity prison)  for weeks even months depending on how severe their pains and bruises are, PR Pulu claimed.

No one else even some of the prison guards or families were allowed to see these inmates, he added.

They could only be allowed to be released or seen by their families when the prison guards were confident they did win the heart of these inmates and make sure they would not take further legal action against those who beat them.

At this point, Pulu said, the pains and bruises of the inmate return to normal.

"This is a culture of a wide-scale corruption that takes place at the top echelon of this government department and it must be stopped as soon as possible," he said. 

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