Victim of alleged security beatings aids investigations in Fiji
Police Commissioner says probe into a torture case more than a year old continues as victim changes mind to assist.
Fiji's Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald says one of the victims of an alleged beating by security personnel is now assisting with investigations.
In 2013 a clip showing the severe beating of two recaptured prisoners was released online.
In July Police closed the file but a week later newly-appointed commissioner Ben Groenewald reopened the case, citing an administrative error.
Now the commissioner tells Koro Vaka'uta he reopened the case because one of the victims, who is still serving time, changed his mind and is willing to assist.
BEN GROENEWALD: I saw the withdrawal statement in any other case, if a person has sent a withdrawal then that has been sent to the DPP, Director Public Prosecutions and 90 percent of the time he will not prosecute. You need to have a complainant to go to court but this is not a normal case. This is a case of international recognition and international interest and that was the reason why I reopened it. I requested that my Director, Criminal Investigation Department to get hold of the complainant and he was taken to our interview room and then he said that he is now all by himself and his mind is back and he prefer to proceed with further investigations. On that grounds I instructed the to do a de novo investigation as from the start.
KORO VAKAUTA: Where are we at now? Because the initial deadline was the end of November?
BG: I gave them until the end of November, I informed them that I am waiting for a progress report, I didn't expect them to finalise because it is the total a, de novo investigation and they need to go back and trace all these witnesses before they can proceed in court?
KV: Even with the difficulty of witnesses tracking them down, how much weight is given to the actual video footage?
BG: The video footage will be substantial evidence that can be used in court. You need to have direct evidence to substantiate your substantial evidence.
KV: So basically the long and the of it is that it's still proceeding and you are hoping to get some indication, I guess in the next?
BG: Well I have my thumb on it and they will not get out of it until I am satisfied that the case docket will be submitted again to DPP. Keep in mind that the police has no power to prosecute, the prosecuting power lies with the Director of Public Prosecutions. My responsibility in terms of the Constitution is to see that the case docket is properly investigated.
KV: Is this going at a pace that is usual?
BG: Yes, I don't want to rush these people because the normal procedure of investigation is that you take all witness statements. Once you have all witness statements that can substantiate the video, you have enough to approach your so called perpetrators.
KV: I ask this so I can check next time where we are at because of that initial indication of a December deadline, when do you hope...
BG: Ja, ja maybe we misinterpreted the deadline, you can never say there is a deadline in any investigation. In other words, once being sent to the DPP he may sent back and says I need more statements. So that is the process I am reluctant to say I want them to do it before the 10th or the 12th or the 15th of this month. I am positive that we can do it within the next two or three weeks but I don't want to put a deadline on it.
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