23 Aug 2012

New Zealand police officer dies after assault in Tonga police cell

6:30 pm on 23 August 2012

Tonga police say a New Zealand police officer, who was assaulted while in a police cell last Saturday, has died at Vaiola Hospital in Nuku'alofa.

Kali Fungavaka, who had been in Tonga attending the funeral of his grandfather, was arrested on a minor drunkenness offence late last Friday and placed in cells at the central police station in Nuku'alofa.

He was set upon by another prisoner in the cells and taken to Vaiola Hospital where he underwent surgery for a head injury.

Assistant Commissioner, 'Unga Fa'aoa, says Mr Fungavaka, who had been in the hospital's intensive care unit, died this evening.

Members of his family are believed to have flown in from New Zealand today.

Mr Fungavaka, who is a recipient of the New Zealand Bravery Medal, joined the New Zealand Police in 2006.

Police say an inquiry is underway with the arrest of the prisoner who allegedly committed the assault.

Two Tongan Police staff have also been arrested for an earlier assault on Mr Fungavaka.