1 Sep 2012

Murder charge dropped over killing of police officer

10:24 am on 1 September 2012

A murder charge laid over the killing of a New Zealand policeman in Tonga has been dropped, but two Tongan officers now face manslaughter charges.

Kali Fungavaka, who was in Tonga for his grandfather's funeral, died in a Nuku'alofa hospital on 23 August.

Tongan police say he had been assaulted the previous weekend in a police cell after being arrested on a minor drunkenness charge.

A civilian, Semisi Manu, was charged with his murder, but that charged has been reduced to manslaughter.

Two officers, Salesi Maili and Fatai Faletau, are alleged to have assaulted Mr Fungavakaand now also face manslaughter charges.

Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee says he remains very concerned about Mr Fungavaka's death and investigations are continuing.