8 Mar 2016

Tonga to pay compo to family of late NZ police officer

2:53 pm on 8 March 2016

The Tongan government has agreed to pay compensation to the family of the late New Zealand police officer, Kali Fungavaka, who died after being assaulted while in police custody in 2012.

Kali Fungavaka, a New Zealand police officer who died after being assaulted while in police custody in Tonga.

Kali Fungavaka, a New Zealand police officer who died after being assaulted while in police custody in Tonga. Photo: Facebook

Mr Fungavaka, who was in Tonga for his father's funeral, had been arrested and was attacked in the Central Police station.

In 2014, two police officers were convicted of manslaughter and another was convicted of common assault, while a civilian was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm.

The compensation agreement came as part of proceedings brought against the crown by Auckland lawyer Frank Hogan, who is acting on behalf of Mr Fungavaka's widow, Audra Watts.

"We claimed that the actions on the part of the police force were degrading, and inhumane, they were malicious, outrageous, high-handed and unconstitutional. Now to its credit, the Tongan government acknowledged that each of those descriptions that I just outlined, was truthful."

Frank Hogan said the settlement amount was confidential, but satisfactory and included expenses which left Mr Fungavaka's widow out of pocket.

He said a formal letter from the Tongan government and commissioner of police, apologising for the actions of the police officers, was also part of the settlement package.

Audra Watts is to set up a trust fund for each of Mr Fungavaka's five children from a previous marriage.

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