11 Nov 2015

Fiji Police Commissioner Groenewald resigns

9:14 am on 11 November 2015

Fiji's Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald has resigned and been replaced by Fiji's land force commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho as Acting Police Commissioner.

Mr Groenewald told the ABC he was not happy with the way the Fiji military was interfering with policing.

Fiji Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald appointed in May 2014

Fiji's Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald (file) Photo: RNZI/ Sally Round

The South African took up the job in May last year.

His departure was indirectly due to a standoff with the military over policing matters, he said.

Mr Groenewald, who described himself as a true-blooded policeman, said he was not satisfied with the way they interfered.

In a statement, the Fiji government said Mr Groenewald was leaving for personal and family reasons.

Following advice from the Prime Minister as the Chair of the Constitutional Offices Commission, the President had appointed Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho as the Acting Commissioner, the government said.

Yesterday, Mr Qiliho defended the military's decision to hire three police officers facing criminal charges, including a suspected rapist.

Video footage of a man allegedly being beaten by Fiji security personnel in 2012.

Video footage of a man allegedly being beaten by Fiji security personnel in 2012. Photo: RNZ

They had been abandoned by the police after they were stood down over sexual assault charges, he said.

Last week, the lawyer acting for a Fiji military officer charged over the same sexual assault disputed the prosecution's claim that police unsuccessfully tried to arrest him at the military barracks.

The officer, Pita Matairavula, appeared in court a week ago and was remanded in custody after missing two court summons in Suva last month.

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