Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Tongan cops await trial verdict

Photo / File
Photo / File

Three Tongan policemen will find out whether or not they will stand trial in the death of New Zealand constable Kali Fungavaka next week.

An appeal hearing took place in the country's Supreme Court in Nuku'alofa yesterday.

The Crown appealed against an earlier magistrate decision to discharge officers Tevita Vakalahi, Manu Tu'ivai and Fatai Faletau - previously charged with manslaughter - because of insufficient evidence.

Justice Charles Cato is expected to make a ruling on Friday.

Two other men, a police inspector and a civilian, are also accused of attacking the New Zealand officer.

Counties Manukau Police Constable Kali Fungavaka had travelled to Tonga last August to attend his grandfather's funeral.

He was taken into police custody for a minor drunken incident and was allegedly beaten repeatedly, causing severe head injuries.

Mr Fungavaka's family, including his five young children, travelled from New Zealand and Australia to say goodbye before his life support was turned off five days after the attack.

Crown prosecutor Sione Sisifa told the Herald that he was feeling positive that all men would go to trial, which would be scheduled around October.

"It could go either way, but I'm hopeful and I'm positive. We argued the case well ... and hopefully it will come our way," he said.

Meanwhile, the Fungavaka family is seeking a six-figure compensation packet from the Tongan Government for Mr Fungavaka's children.

- NZ Herald

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