27 Sep 2012

More police charged over NZ officer's death in Tonga

5:36 pm on 27 September 2012

Another three Tongan police officers have been charged in relation to the death of a New Zealand policeman last month.

They appeared in court on Thursday and have been charged with the manslaughter of Kali Fungavaka.

Another two officers, charged earlier with common assault, have had their charges upgraded to manslaughter.

Kali Fungavaka died in hospital six days after he was allegedly assaulted in custody.

He had been arrested on what police said was a minor drunkeness charge while in Tonga for a family funeral.

One of the three charged on Thursday is a commissioned officer who was a supervisor on the night that Mr Fungavaka was arrested. The other two are constables.

A civilian, Semisi Manu, who was in a cell with Mr Fungavaka, is also facing a manslaughter charge after initially being charged with murder.

All six charged will appear in court again next Monday.

Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee says the five officers, who are on bail, are suspended without pay.

He says a planned public inquiry into the alleged use of excessive force by Tongan police won't get underway until after the trials are completed.