Tonga manslaughter charges dropped

Two Tongan policemen linked to the fatal beating of an Auckland policeman have had manslaughter charges against them dropped and have been freed on bail pending assault charges.

Otahuhu constable Kali Fungavaka had been in Tonga for his grandfather's funeral when he was arrested outside a Nuku'alofa bar on August 17.

He was allegedly assaulted by Tongan constables Salesi Maile and Fatai Faletau before he was taken to police cells, where another man, Semisi Kalisitiane Manu, then also allegedly assaulted him.

Fungavaka was taken to Vaiola Hospital and died a week later.

Last Friday Tonga Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee announced that Manu would have the capital murder charge reduced to manslaughter while the policemen's assault charges would be increased to the same charge.

But the Matangi Tonga news website reported today that the Tonga's Crown Law office has refused to lay the manslaughter charges.

Maile and Faletau received bail of $100 each with sureties of $80 each and are not allowed to travel outside of Tongatapu, Tonga's main island.

Manu remains in police custody, facing a manslaughter charge.

O'Fee said this afternoon that the situation was frustrating.

"It is not my decision or any of my officers' of what charge we lay, the decision is made by the Attorney General's office," he told Matangi Tonga.

"And although the Acting Solicitor General was initially comfortable with our decision to charge them with manslaughter the Solicitor General, as he is quite entitled to, has decided to see more of the pathology report before he makes that final decision," he said.


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