20 Apr 2020

Fiji social media poster charged for violating Public Order Act

2:52 pm on 20 April 2020

A legal consultant in Fiji has been charged for violating the Public Order Act over a controversial social media post.

Meline Buadromo is accused of malicious acts "with intention to create public alarm, anxiety and disaffection" after she claimed on social media that police were responsible for the death of a remand prisoner last week.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Koroi Hawkins

Police condemned her online post and said the man died while being transferred to the hospital from the corrections facility and was therefore in the custody of prison officials and not police.

Buadromo also claimed the victim was arrested for breaching curfew but police said the man had been held over burglary charges.

Four Corrections officers have since been charged over the man's death.

Police said two officers were charged with murder while the other two face assault charges.

Buadromo has been bailed and will be back in court on 28 May.

Death investigation

Fiji's Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission is investigating the prisoner's death.

In a statement, director Ashwin Raj said any death that occurs in custody was a serious concern.

Mr Raj said allegations by the victim's family that they were not informed of his death and detainment is "disconcerting and constitutes an interdiction of his rights as an arrested and detained person".

He said the commission is working with the corrections department and police to find out what happened to the prisoner.

Police officers under investigation

In a separate incident, Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho says police officers are being investigated over an alleged assault in the eastern division.

The officers are alleged to have pushed the victim off a bridge in Wainibuka before dragging him into a plantation and assaulting him.

Mr Qiliho said he had directed the Criminal Investigations Department and the Internal Affairs to carry out simultaneous investigations into the alleged incident.

The commissioner said he would ensure the investigations are conducted thoroughly and promptly.

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Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koroi Hawkins

Villager accused of murder

Meanwhile a man has been charged over the death of a village headman during the Covid-19 curfew restriction in Labasa last week.

Police said the accused and three other people were allegedly drinking alcohol in the village when the victim tried to disperse the social gathering.

Police said the headman was allegedly assaulted by the accused and died.

The four men who were drinking have also been charged with breaching the nation-wide curfew.

Curfew arrests

Earlier, police said about 2000 people have been arrested since the Covid-19 nationwide curfew was imposed on 30 March.

With 1,800 people taken into custody, police said social gatherings topped the arrests with 861 while 600 people were caught out on the streets during the curfew.

Ninety-three people were arrested overnight for breaching curfew from 8pm to 5am.

Police said they were concerned pleas to the public to adhere to the curfew restrictions were "falling on deaf ears."