25 Jun 2013

Appeal of dropped charges over policeman's death in Tonga

4:38 am on 25 June 2013

An appeal has begun in Tonga's Supreme Court to review a magistrate's decision to discharge three policemen previously charged with the manslaughter of a New Zealand policeman.

The Counties Manukau officer, Kali Fungavaka, died while in police custody in 2012, and the trio were among five officers and one civilian charged over his death.

In April, a court magistrate discharged Constables Fatai Faletau, Manu Tu'ivai and Tevita Vakalahi, saying there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

But the Crown's lawyer, Sione Sisifa, says they remain confident in their appeal.

"The crown is appealing against that ruling on the basis that there was a prima facie evidence against those three officers to be committed for trial in the Supreme Court."

Sione Sisifa says lawyers for the three officers will present their case today.

Meanwhile the other two policemen and a civilian charged with manslaughter over Mr Fungavaka's death, have also appeared in court, and their hearing has been adjourned until August the 5th.