5 Feb 2016

More charges filed against Fiji police officers in rape case

4:31 pm on 5 February 2016

Fiji's Director of Public Prosecutions has filed additional charges against the police and military officers accused of raping a civilian in police custody in 2014.

Vilikesa Soko died in hospital as a result of the injuries he sustained in the attack, but manslaughter charges were dropped in October.

The director, Christopher Pryde, said he had filed additional charges against the nine accused: the sexual assault of Mr Soko, and the sexual assault and attempted rape of another man, Senijeli Boila.

Mr Pryde said the serious nature of the charges means he will seek to have the officers' bail revoked.

According to documents on the website Fijileaks, two of the accused, Manasa Talala and Viliami Vereivalu, were suspended from the force and banned from entering police property by the former commissioner, Ben Groenewald.

Mr Groenewald resigned late last year and left the country, citing constant military interference, and was replaced by Sitiveni Qiliho, a former military commander who is now seeking the position permanently.

Mr Qiliho reinstated Mr Talala and Mr Vereivalu to the force, and the pair are now involved with the investigation into the former deputy police commissioner, Henry Brown.

Mr Brown resigned last month following an announcement that he was being investigated for what Mr Qiliho called a "serious internal matter."

Mr Pryde said he is extremely concerned that the accused officers have been reinstated to the force, saying the move is unacceptable and represents a real risk of interference with investigations.