25 Mar 2004

Bashed prisoner prompts inquiry by Fiji police commissioner

4:09 pm on 25 March 2004

Fiji's police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, has ordered an inquiry into the alleged bashing of a robber by 20 police officers armed with iron pipes, rods, sticks and other objects.

Vilikeso Buadromo appeared in court this week accused of being one of six who stole a four-wheel drive vehicle, chained an automatic teller machine to it and attempted to drag it away.

The Fiji media, including television, has highlighted Buadromo being carried into court with his face covered with injuries.

Mr Hughes ordered the inquiry after NGOs and the Human Rights Commission raised concerns about police brutality.

But police officers say Buadromo had been able to walk earlier and was faking the extent of his injuries to gain public sympathy.

A police spokesman, Mesake Koroi, says he has visited Buadromo in his cell and has seen him walking normally.

Mr Koroi says Buadromo should be awarded an OSCAR for his performance.

Magistrate David Balram granted Buadromo bail so that he could be cared for his family.