31 Aug 2012

Murder charge over killing of New Zealand police officer in Tonga replaced by manslaughter

12:02 pm on 31 August 2012

A murder charge laid over the killing of a New Zealand police officer in Tonga has been dropped.

But assault charges laid against two Tonga police officers after the death of Kali Fungavaka have been upgraded to manslaughter.

Don Wiseman has more:

"Mr Fungavaka died in Vaiola Hospital in Nuku'alofa on Thursday last week after he'd been beaten early on Saturday morning of the previous weekend. Police say he was assaulted in a cell and a civilian, Semisi Manu, was charged with his murder, but that charged has been reduced to manslaughter. The two officers, Salesi Maili and Fatai Faletau, are alleged to have assaulted Mr Fungavaka late on Friday night after he'd been arrested on what police say was a minor drunkenness charge. They now also face manslaughter charges. Meanwhile the Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee says he remains very concerned about Mr Fungavaka's death and investigations are continuing. He says he knows of many decent and honest people in the Tonga police who serve according to their oath. But he says it is apparent some do not. Mr O'Fee says those officers must change their ways or prepare for the consequences."