3 Sep 2012

Police boss believes manslaughter charges should be laid

10:04 pm on 3 September 2012

Tonga's Police Commissioner believes two officers released on bail over the death of a New Zealand officer should be charged with manslaughter, but says the decision is up to the Solicitor-General.

Police say Kali Fungavaka was assaulted in a police cell on 17 August after he was arrested on a charge of minor drunkenness outside a bar in the capital Nuku'alofa.

Mr Fungavaka was in the Pacific Island nation for the funeral of his grandfather and was taken to hospital where he underwent surgery for a head injury, but died on 23 August.

On Monday, Salesi Maili and Fatai Faletau were bailed on a charge of common assault until October this year, Radio New Zealand International reports.

A civilian also accused of assaulting Mr Fungavaka remains in custody.

Commissioner Grant O'Fee says despite earlier advice to the contrary from the Solicitor-General's office, any change to the charges will only be made once an examination of the forensic evidence is complete.

"It's my personal view that the charges should be laid, but it's not my decision. It's a decision for him to make and he's absolutely entitled to do it properly and ask for more information. We just have to work within the system and supply him with all the information we can."

Mr O'Fee says he will meet with the Solicitor-General on Tuesday morning.