2 May 2014

Tongan cops accused of manslaughter chose not to give evidence

10:36 am on 2 May 2014

In Tonga, the five policemen accused of manslaughter in the death of a New Zealand constable chose not to give evidence in the trial at the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court after the Crown concluded its final witness on Thursday.

The court heard from the defence counsel their decision not to call any witnesses nor would the accused give evidence.

Police Inspector Kelepi Hala'ufia and Police Constables Salesi Maile, Tevita Vakalahi, Manu Tu'ivai and Fatai Faletau have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter with an alternative charge of grievous bodily harm.

Civilian Semisi Manu has also been charged and is to be tried separately.

The Crown's final witness the Deputy Police Commissioner 'Unga Fa'aoa who led the investigation into Kali Fungavaka's death said in his evidence in chief that he first learnt of the incident on August 21, 2012 some days after Kali was taken into hospital.

He said after being briefed on the nature of the case he believed it being a high profile case that it should be dealt with by the Serious Crime Unit.

Meanwhile, Matangi Tonga online reports that Justice Charles Cato then adjourned to next Monday to hear final submissions from counsel.