NEWS

Qiliho Orders Probe In Alleged Police Brutality, Father Can Not Accept Son’s Death

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has directed the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to expe­dite the investigation into the death of a 26-year-old man. In a statement issued yesterday, Brigadier-Gen­eral Qiliho
13 Oct 2018 12:17
Qiliho Orders Probe In Alleged Police Brutality, Father Can Not Accept Son’s Death
The late Josua Lalauvaki (centre) with friends.

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has directed the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to expe­dite the investigation into the death of a 26-year-old man.

In a statement issued yesterday, Brigadier-Gen­eral Qiliho said the victim Josua Lalauvaki, was allegedly assaulted while Police were attending to a report outside a nightclub in Suva on Septem­ber 2.

“I maintain that the Fiji Police Force has no place for officers who abuse their authority and will not hesitate to remove anyone found to be doing so,” Brigadier- General Qiliho said.

“Due to injuries sustained he was taken to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital and was admitted up until he passed away yesterday (Thursday).

“Following the initial report of an alleged assault in Sep­tember, a directive was issued for a team from the Internal Affairs Unit to investigate the allegations, and I have now directed the case be taken over by the Director CID and his team. I give my personal assurance that a thorough investi­gation will be conducted regarding the circumstances sur­rounding his death,” he said.

Brigadier-General Qiliho extended his condolences to the victim’s family.

The victim’s father, 60 year-old Ilaisa Dakunivosa Tagi­ratu, still does not accept that his youngest son Josua is no more.

The Kiuva lad from Tailevu died at 2am on Thursday morning at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, where he was admitted for more than a month.

Lalauvaki’s family claims Police officers had brutally as­saulted him outside a nightclub in Suva early last month when he went there to meet his girlfriend. They also claimed that Lalauvaki died from injuries he suffered dur­ing the alleged assault, which continued after he was taken to the Totogo Police Station in Suva.

“I cannot accept that Josua is gone because he was very healthy. His injuries resembled that of a victim of a fatal car accident,” Mr Tagiratu said.

“We hope there is an investigation into his death.”

Still reeling from the loss of a son, Mr Tagiratu said “He was watching the game between the Fijian Drua team and Melbourne Rising at Ratu Cakobau Park in Nausori on that afternoon. After, his girlfriend called him to meet them in Suva. He went to a nightclub where his girlfriend and her brother were.

He claimed: “By the time he arrived at the nightclub there was a commotion inside the nightclub and they were coming out. I think Police was doing something to his girl­friend’s brother. They might have been trying to arrest him and that is when Josua went and tried to stop them.”

Mr Tagiratu said as his son was trying to stop the com­motion, one of the Police officers allegedly punched him.

“He was not even drinking; he just got to town after watching the game and his girlfriend had called him to go and meet them,” he said.

“He fell unconscious and everything that was done to him was done at the Totogo Police Station.

“He was at the station for a couple of hours before they released him on Sunday morning and he was rushed to the hospital where he was X-rayed and later had surgery be­cause his health had deteriorated.”

Josua is the third child of Mr Tagiratu’s four children and was a gifted rugby player who played for the Rewa Rugby Team and had a promising future.

“He was a well-mannered boy, always jovial and hardly has a bad temper. He laughs a lot and is always cracking jokes,” an emotional Mr Tagiratu said.

Rewa Rugby Union coach, Ro Alifereti Doviverata said Josua was a strong-willed and disciplined person.

“Even though he had niggling injuries, he always gave 100 per cent. At times when he was supposed to rest, he would come and ask to give him a chance to play – but I never wanted to risk him playing and worsen his injury, but he would plead to give him a chance.”

Josua first played in the Rewa side in 2017 in the Vodafone Vanua Challenge. He played as a second-five-eight.

“He was a very good organiser in the midfield, both in attack and equally in defence – a very strong tackler. His organisation skills in attack and defence made me select him as vice-captain.”

“He was a player who I saw could go further in his rugby career in the Fiji rugby pathway.”

 

The late Josua Lalauvaki was a key player in the Rewa Rugby side. This was Josua scoring a try during the Skipper Cup competition against Naitasiri at the Ratu Cakobau Park in May. Photo: Simione Haranavanua

The late Josua Lalauvaki was a key player in the Rewa Rugby side. This was Josua scoring a try during the Skipper Cup competition against Naitasiri at the Ratu Cakobau Park in May. Photo: Simione Haranavanua

 

Rewa Rugby Union president, Filipe Tuisawau, said Josua was a talented rugby player and was listed for the initial Drua rugby squad.

“We are indeed sad to learn of the death of regular Rewa Rugby Union player Josua Lalauvaki from an alleged Po­lice assault,” Mr Tuisawau said.

“We note the release by the Police Commissioner on the matter and urge him to personally take charge so that jus­tice is served as quickly as possible. We also call on the Prime Minister to urgently authorise compensation for Josua’s family as soon as possible because this was obvi­ously the result of an alleged vicious assault.”

Mr Tuisawau said such assaults were unacceptable and an extreme abuse of human rights.

“The perpetrators must be brought to justice. We offer our sincere condolences to the family and await the details of funeral arrangements before we travel to Kiuva to fare­well Josua,” Mr Tuisawau said.

When contacted yesterday, Josua’s girlfriend refused to comment. However, it is understood that she had lodged an official complaint with the Police.

 

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: fonua.talei@fijisun.com.fj



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