25 Jul 2013

Tonga police consider inter-school fight serious criminal offence

7:19 am on 25 July 2013

The police in Tonga say while there have been some positive signs for reconciliation after a violent inter-school conflict, police must first deal with the very serious criminal offending committed.

147 ex and current students from Tupou college were arrested after an attack that left an ex-Tonga college pupil, Taniela Halahuni, in a critical condition.

A teacher from Tupou college, and another man, both in their 40's have also been arrested.

The police commissioner, Grant O'Fee, says there are lots of well meaning people trying to do the best they can for the situation, but this is more serious than a regular school fight.

"We have a long way to go, and we have to deal with the criminality first, so just gotta keep in mind that this is serious criminal offending. I don't like to use the words school fights because it conjures up a kid with a broken nose and a black eye, this is far, far greater magnitude than that. This is serious, very serious criminal offending."

Grant O'Fee says ex-Tonga college students visited the Tupou college prisoners to give them food, which is a positive step.