How Inmate Escaped

High risk prisoner Lemeki Tupali was serving 9 years jail time for aggravated robbery when he fled.
27 Sep 2022 11:00
How Inmate Escaped
Police officers on high alert outside the Colo-i-Suva Police Post on September 26, 2022. Photo: Leon Lord. INSET: Escaped prisoner Lemeki Tupali.

On September 14, serving prisoner Lemeki Tupali was taken to Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital. He remained at Sukuna Ward until he escaped from the custody of Fiji Corrections Service officers on Sunday.

Fiji Sun is yet to establish why Tupali was admitted for 10 days before his escape. There are about nine beds in Sukuna Ward and the ward is mostly for stressed patients.

Sometime after 5pm last Sunday, Tupali asked to go to the toilet, which was a few metres away from the ward where he was admitted. This toilet is on the ground floor of the hospital.

Two adjacent toilet cubicles had window areas damaged; one where louvres were removed and the other cubicle where a wooden portion above the window had been removed.


While inside, he is believed to have changed into civilian clothes and stashed his prison uniform behind the toilet seat. After this, he is believed to have removed three louvre blades of the window frame, climbed out and jumped approximately two metres down. The toilet window faces Waimanu Road.

He is believed to have then gotten into a vehicle metres away from where he jumped out of.

Police investigations have revealed that Tupali had allegedly used the mobile phone of a Fiji Corrections Service officer to make a call before his escape.

Report of his escape was lodged at Totogo Police Station at 7.26pm, which is believed to have been two hours after he went missing.


Nothing To Lose:

Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho has warned that Tupali has nothing to lose. As a serving prisoner, he was due to be released in 2029.

Brigadier-General Qiliho has also sounded a warning to business houses to be on alert, saying that robberies may have been planned to coincide with his escape.

He has also warned the general public that Tupali was serving sentence for aggravated robbery, and that he has been violent in the past.

He has directed additional resources be provided to the task- force conducting the search for Tupali and all efforts be directed towards his arrest.

Brigadier-General Qiliho warned that anyone found to be aiding or harbouring Tupali would be arrested.

Members of the public are urged to immediately report any sightings or information to their nearest Police Station or Crimestoppers on 919.


Not His First Escape:

Tupali had previously escaped in 2014 from the Nasinu Magistrates Court. He was recaptured after boarding a minibus while said to be intoxicated.

He was arrested in Laqere, outside Suva.




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