5 Dec 2006

Tonga's defence services report lacks credibility

10:12 am on 5 December 2006

The Tonga Defence Services say a report alleging suspects were systematically tortured and abused following the Nuku'alofa riots last month lacks credibility because it's politically driven.

The government is investigating the allegations in the anonymous report, which was released by the National Centre for Woman and Children last week.

The report claims suspects detained in the Nuku'alofa Police station after the riots on November 16th were tortured and abused by TDS personnel and police officers.

But a senior defence services official, who did not wish to be named, says the report's credibility is questionable, given that the author is related to a politician, who he declined to identify.

The government has released a statement condemning any alleged mistreatment of suspects, saying it will examine the allegations before addressing the reports recommendations.

However the Prime Minister's advisor, Lopeti Senituli, says the government's concerned that the author of the report has not been named.

And Mr Senituli says the report states that none of the suspects interviewed for the report suffered violence during interrogations.

A source in Tonga says the report was written by a volunteer at the centre and released without the approval of its director or board.