A Tongan magistrate has questioned why two policemen have escaped murder charges over the death of New Zealand policeman Kali Fungavaka.

Pita Soakimi today queried why civilian Semisi Kalisitiane Manu was charged with murder in relation to the death of Constable Fungavaka, who was injured while in police custody, while two policemen remained with only assault charges, Matangi Tonga online reported.

Manu was in the same cell as Mr Fungavaka and was initially charged with bodily harm last week, but a new charge of murder was laid against him at Nuku'alofa Magistrate's Court today.

The two policemen have been identified as Salesi Maile and Fatai Faletau.


Police Prosecutor Mema Latu told the courtroom the two policemen assaulted the victim before he was put into the cell, the website reported.

He said an investigation was still underway and further examination on the victim's body would be carried out in New Zealand.

The three men have been remanded in custody until their next court appearance on September 24.

Tongan police said Mr Fungavaka, 38, was arrested for a minor drunkenness offence after going to a Nuku'alofa club with a relative.

He received fatal head injuries from two alleged assaults, by the two policeman and then from another prisoner inside the cell, and never regained consciousness.

His life support was turned off last Thursday, and last night Mr Fungavaka's body was taken to Otara's Whaiora Marae.