9 Apr 2014

Tonga manslaughter trial involving police begins

8:26 pm on 9 April 2014

The trial has begun involving five police officers in Tonga charged with manslaughter in relation to the death of a New Zealand officer.

Constable Kali Fungavaka died in August 2012 from substantial injuries he suffered while in custody.

A police inspector and four constables have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, with an alternative charge of grievous bodily harm.

News website Matangi Tonga reports that a civilian will also be charged with the same offence in a separate jury trial.

Prosecutor Aminiasi Kefu said on Wednesday it was the Crown's case that all five officers acted in joint enterprise causing significant injuries which led to Mr Fungavaka's death. They included a skull fracture and massive internal bleeding at the base of his brain.

The New Zealand policeman had attended the funeral of his grandfather in Tonga and had been out drinking before his arrest.

The Crown is to call 30 witnesses and is expecting to end its case on 16 April.