Police to Probe Claims of Beating
Family of Lautoka carjacking accused has lodged report of alleged Police brutality despite safety assurance from Qiliho
Police a re now conducting an internal investigation concerning the alleged beating of the eighth carjacker accused in Lautoka, Isaac Mathew James. This comes despite assurances given to the family of the accused by Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho that James would be safe. James was turned in by the family after Police had sought their assistance to locate him. It is alleged that James was involved in a carjacking incident outside a shop at Kashmir, Lautoka, which was captured by the shop’s CCTV cameras. On October 27, Police
released a statement thanking James family for co-operating with their in vestigations. Now James’ aunty, Faith Grace, who is a high school teacher, claims the Commissioner’s assurances were not followed. Ms Grace said: “I turned in my neph ew only because I was assured of his safety.” After his arrest, James was taken in for his interview along with his uncle Mark Naisogoniceva. “When they got down in the van, one of the Police officers called the Com missioner and told him they have ar rested Isaac,” Ms Grace said. “Since the phone was on speaker my husband could hear them speak and heard the Commissioner say that nothing should happen to the boy.” Despite the order by Commissioner Qiliho, Ms Grace claims officers at the Lautoka Police station had beaten up James. Ms Grace and her younger sister, Ee lenoa Suguta, who is James’ mother have lodged a complaint with the Po lice Internal investigation team at the Fiji Police headquarters in Suva. “We didn’t know about the beat ing until Isaac called in asking if we could send his clothes for his appear ance in court,” Ms Grace said. “In code words, he told me that what happened to him at Nakasi Police Sta tion happened in Lautoka as well.” At the Nakasi Police Station, James is alleged to have been beaten with a piece of wood until he lost conscious ness. Ms Grace also claimed that James was not fed, given water to drink or assisted with medical help at the Na kasi Police Station. However, these claims have been re futed by Fiji Police Force chief of op erations, Assistant Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu. He said such things cannot be done by Police officers. “We go through adequate training Our officers are not foolish and not give food and water to people in cus tody,” he said.
He said these allegations were just one side of the story.
“That is just an allegation and I can assure that we will be on top of the investigation to find out both sides of the story before making any judg ment,” Mr Tudravu said. Brigadier-General Qiliho had told
Fiji Sun earlier that the Force would not condone Police brutality under his watch. The Police Commissioner said all al legations of Police brutality would be investigated and appropriate action taken if they were found to be true.