27 Aug 2012

Tonga death now murder charge

10:42 pm on 27 August 2012

One of the people arrested in connection with the death of a New Zealand police officer in Tonga has been charged with murder.

Kali Fungavaka, who was in Tonga for his grandfather's funeral, died in a Nuku'alofa hospital last Thursday.

Tongan police say he was assaulted in a police cell after being arrested on a minor drunkenness charge.

Two Tongan police officers, Salesi Maili and Fatai Faletau, and a civilian, Semisi Manu, were charged with common assault.

A spokesperson for the Magistrates Court in Tonga says the charge against Mr Manu has now been upgraded to murder.

The prosecutor says police are waiting for the outcome of a post mortem before they decide whether to alter the charges against the two other men.

The case will be before the court again at the end of next month.

Tongan Police Commissioner Grant O'Fee has launched a second investigation into the death.

Mr O'Fee says as well as the homicide investigation, an inquiry will be held into whether police processes were followed while dealing with Mr Fungavaka. He says both inquiries will be robust.