'Slap on the wrist' over Kiwi cop's death

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Kali Fungavaka. Photo / Supplied
Kali Fungavaka. Photo / Supplied

Two Tongan police officers found guilty of the manslaughter of South Auckland police Constable Kali Fungavaka have been sentenced to 10 years and eight years jail, a sentence his family have called "a slap on the wrist."

Mr Fungavaka's former wife and the mother of his five children, Cally Ruahe, said she was made aware of the decision this morning and admits she is still sad about the case.

"I'm just sad for my kids. I was trying to be at peace, no matter what the outcome was."

Ms Ruahe looks after four of her and Mr Fungavaka's five children, in Auckland. They are aged between 9 and 14, and continue to struggle with their father's violent death.

She said of today's sentencing: "In the real world, if you take someone's life, you would think [you'd get] more than 10 years. But both those men together aren't even serving 20 years. I just think for me and my children, we're serving a life sentence - me trying to deal with their loss and them trying to deal, as kids, the loss of their dad.

"These men pretty much get away...with a slap on the wrist."

Tongan police Inspector Kelepi Hala'ufia and Constable Salesi Maile were earlier found guilty of manslaughter after beating Mr Fungavaka - a constable with Counties Manukau Police - while in a police cell in August 2012.

Hala'ufia was today sentenced to 10 years in prison and Constable Maile was sentenced to eight, TVNZ reported.

A man who was in a police cell with Mr Fungavaka, Semisi Kalisitiane Manu, was given an 18-month suspended prison term for grievous bodily harm, TVNZ said.

A third police officer, Constable Fatai Faletau, who was found guilty of assault, will be sentenced on July 29.

Mr Fungavaka had been in Tonga for his grandfather's funeral and had been taken in by police for minor drunkenness. He had been out with a relative on his last night in Tonga, before flying back to New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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