20 Sep 2016

Suspended Fiji police and officer in court

5:11 pm on 20 September 2016

Eight suspended Fiji policemen and a military officer have appeared in court in Lautoka for a pre-trial hearing.

They are all charged in relation to the death of Vilikesa Soko, who died after he was beaten while in police custody in 2014.

Manasa Talala, Seruvi Caqusau, Kelevi Sewatu, Penaia Drauna, Filise Vere, Viliame Vereivalu, Jona Davonu, Pita Matairavula and Senitiki Natakasavu are charged with rape.

Mr Talala and Mr Vereivalu are also charged with defeating the course of justice by instructing other police officers to make false statements.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said the accused are before the High Court in Lautoka for a Voir Dire hearing, ahead of the full trial which is expected to start some time next week.

The trial is scheduled to conclude on the 14th of October.

All the accused were suspended on full pay earlier this year after being reinstated by the police commissioner, Sitiveni Qiliho.

He suspended them after the director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde, expressed concern at their presence within the police force, saying it represented a real risk of interference with investigations.

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