6 Jul 2013

Appeal upheld over New Zealand policeman's death in Tonga

5:34 am on 6 July 2013

Three Tonga police officers, who walked free earlier this year after charges against them over the death of a New Zealand police officer were dropped, will now stand trial on August the 5th.

The trio are among five officers and one civilian charged with the manslaughter of Kali Fungavaka, a Counties Manakau officer who died in hospital after allegedly being beaten while in police custody on a drunkenness offence.

Justice Charles Cato of Tonga's Supreme Court Friday morning upheld the Crown's appeal against a ruling in April to discharge Constables Fatai Faletau, Manu Tu'ivai and Tevita Vakalahi on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

However, the Crown's lawyer has told Radio New Zealand International that the appeal case is based on there being prima facie evidence against those three officers.

The other two police officers involved, Inspector Kelepi Hala'ufia and Constable Salesi Maile, along with a civilian, Semisi Manu, will also appear in court on August the 5th on manslaughter charges.