28 Aug 2012

Civilian charged with murder after death of NZ police officer in Tonga

4:26 am on 28 August 2012

One of the people arrested in connection with the death of a New Zealand police officer in Tonga has been charged with murder.

Kali Fungavaka, who was in Tonga at a funeral, died in a Nuku'alofa hospital last Thursday.

The Police say he had been assaulted in a police cell after being arrested on a minor drunkenness charge.

Two Tongan police officers, Salesi Maili and Fatai Faletau, and a member of the public, Semisi Manu, were charged with common assault.

But a spokesperson for the Magistrates court in Tonga says Mr Manu has had his charge upgraded to murder yesterday.

She says the Magistrate asked the prosecutor why the two officers had not had their charges upgraded.

The spokesperson says the charges haven't been upgraded because the police are still waiting for the outcome of a post mortem.

Meanwhile, Tonga's Police Commissioner says the two inquiries into the death of Mr Fungavaka will include investigations into the role two Tongan officers allegedly played in the incident.

Two Tongan officers charged with assaulting Mr Fungavaka, have been remanded in custody after making a brief appearance in court yesterday.

The Commissioner Grant O'Fee says the homicide and police conduct investigations will be robust.

"The public are reassured that the investigation is as I've just described and not just looking at people other than police officers. I understand people make allegations and sometimes these are substantiated and sometimes they are not, but most certainly this will be a very detailed and very probing investigation and we will not be holding back on that at all."

Grant O'Fee says the Australian Federal Police will review the inquiries once they have been completed.