A Kiwi policeman who died in Tonga suffered heavy blows to
the head and was allegedly beaten repeatedly by five local
police officers and a prisoner.
Constable Kali Fungavaka, 38, died in August last year after
suffering severe head injuries while in police custody. The
Counties Manukau policeman was in the country to bury his
grandfather, who had died just days earlier.
A three-day preliminary court inquiry began yesterday in the
island nation, where it was heard that Mr Fungavaka suffered
a horrific beating on the night he was taken into police
The preliminary inquiry will determine whether the case
should progress to Tonga's Supreme Court.
The Matangi Tonga reported that Mr Fungavaka and a relative
were arrested on the night of August 17, in the Nuku'alofa
CBD, for public drunkenness.
Crown prosecutor Sione Sisifa told the court two police
officers, constables Fatai Faletau and Salesi Maile, led Mr
Fungavaka to a nearby police station on foot.
It is alleged one of the officers hit Mr Fungavaka on the
head with a torch - causing him to collapse.
Later it is alleged Inspector Kelepi Hala'ufia again hit Mr
Fungavaka on the head with a torch, before all five officers
- including constables Manu Tu'ivai and Tevita Vakalahi -
allegedly beat him repeatedly; punching him in the face and
body and with at least one officer stomping on his head with
Mr Fungavaka suffered a further beating when he was put in a
cell with civilian Semisi Kalisitiane Manu.
The New Zealand police officer was not taken to hospital
until 6am the next day. Mr Fungavaka's head injuries were so
serious he needed surgery, from which he never regained
All six accused, who have been on bail since September, face
alternative charges of causing grievous bodily harm.
Earlier in the day the inquiry was delayed because of
concerns evidence from four defendants with the same lawyer
Charges were laid against five police officers and a fellow
detainee after New Zealander Kali Fungavaka suffered fatal
injuries in a Tongan police cell on August 17 last year.
Mr Fungavaka's family - including his wife Audra Watts,
younger brother Bishop and mother Rosemary - travelled from
New Zealand for a preliminary inquiry in Nuku'alofa
Magistrates Court yesterday.
But the hearing was adjourned earlier in the day after the
lawyer for four of the defendants, Mele Kioa, told the packed
court the evidence of her clients would clash, Matangi Tonga
Ms Kioa said the evidence of civilian Semisi Kalisitiane
Manu, who was also in police custody at the time of Mr
Fungavaka's death, would contradict that of accused police
constables Fatai Faletau, Salesi Maile and Manu Tu'ivai. The
hearing was adjourned so they could find separate legal
Two other accused police officers - Inspector Kelepi
Hala'ufia - who was supervising officer on the night of Mr
Fungavaka's death, and constable Tevita Vakalahi are
represented by their own lawyers.
- Vaimoana Tapaleao and Matthew Backhouse of APNZ