Family of Fungavaka killed by police sues Tonga government

UPDATED: The family of the New Zealand Police Officer who died following arrest and bash by Tongan police officers in Nuku’alofa Central Police Station is filing a civil-rights and wrongful-death lawsuit against the government of Tonga, 3 News reported.  

Kali Fungavaka was in Tonga for a funeral of his grandfather, Kepueli Fungavaka  on August 2012 where he was one of the ball bearers.

On the night of August 17 he was in one of the restaurant bars in Nuku’alofa where he was arrested and allegedly being bashed to death by police officers.

"We are seeking compensation, redress and at least an apology from the Tongan government, and in particular the Tongan police," barrister Kahungunu Barron-Adeaki, SC told 3 News.

According to the News,  “Mr Barron-Afeaki is heading the case on behalf of Mr Fungavaka's children. This morning he phoned the Tongan Police Minister to inform him of the legal action against the police.

“He says the case will focus on emotional harm to Mr Fungavaka's children and loss of income to his family, as a result of his death.

"Changes must be made," says Mr Barron-Adeaki. "A man beaten to death in custody is inexcusable."

Mr Fungavaka’s former partner and their 5 children approached Mr Afeaki wanting to seek compensation from the Tonga government.

"We haven't had an apology from the Tongan police or government as to why their father died in those circumstances, and now I'm left with five children to support, their education, and carry on with life," mother Cally Letalu-Ruahe told 3 News.

"I've had to endure lots of nights where my children have cried endlessly. I've had to be a rock for my children in their time of need now that their father has gone."

An appeal hearing set for June 24 for the Supreme Court to  review a lower court decision discharging three policemen Constable Fatai Faletau, Constable Tevita Vakalahi and Constable Manu Tu’ivai who were previously charged in connection with Fungavaka's death.

Three accused including an inspector and a civilian are to appear in Supreme Court to be tried for the killing of Mr Fungavaka.

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