30 Aug 2019

Fiji police question NZ-based couple over family deaths

5:30 pm on 30 August 2019

Fiji Police have questioned a New Zealand-based man in relation to the deaths of five people whose bodies were found near Nadi several days ago.

Fiji police office in Nadi.

Fiji police office in Nadi. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Police believe the man is known to the Indo-Fijian family whose members died, with local media reports saying he is believed to be a natural healer.

Post mortem findings are consistent with the ingestion of a substance by all five victims leading to their deaths.

The Lautoka court yesterday dismissed a police application to keep the New Zealander in custody for longer than 48 hours without facing charges.

The FBC reports the man's wife was also questioned and released last night.

A stop departure order has reportedly been issued by Fiji authorities for the couple who live in Christchurch.

The five people whose bodies were found were a 63-year-old carpenter, Nirmal Kumar, his 54-year-old wife Usha Devi, their 34-year-old daughter, Nileshni Kajal and her two daughters Sana, aged 11, and Samara, aged 8.

The five bodies were found in the Nausori Highlands on a cliff edge on Monday more than 30km from where their car was left.

The sole survivor was a one-year-old baby found crawling at the scene, who is now in hopsital.

Locals have named the girl a "miracle baby" for surviving nearly three days alone at a cliff face.

Fiji police are conducting more tests following the post mortems and the Commissioner confirmed investigations would continue.

Fiji Times reporter Felix Chaudhary said it was a very difficult time for the extended family because they were meant to be celebrating the birthdays of two of the children this Saturday, and instead the family would be buried.

He said police investigations would continue because there were "more questions than answers", particuarly about where they were found and how they got there.

Mr Chaudhary said the family of the victims were very confused that all three adults had left their cell phones at home as they were usually always within reach.

"Nirmal Kumar was well known as someone who liked to just ring his family members at random throughout the day," he said.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade said it would not be providing consular assistance to the man in Fiji because the man is not a New Zealand citizen.

It said the High Commission in Suva is aware of a Fijian citizen in Suva assisting Fiji Police with their enquiries.

It said due to privacy considerations no further details will be provided.

New Zealand Police said the matter was for Fijian authorities.