Alleged police brutality in Fiji investigated

Fiji police are investigating an alleged brutality incident involving its officers that has been linked to the death of a young man last week.

Police said they are aware of a social media post by the deceased who had outlined how he was allegedly assaulted by 'a civilian'.

Ilaisa Batai claimed he was taken in a police vehicle following the incident.

In his post on 10 August, Batai also claimed he was informed by Nausori police officers that the civilian was a police officer.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said they were awaiting results of a post-mortem examination to ascertain the cause of Batai's death last week.

A statement was issued by police saying Acting Commissioner, Rusiate Tudravu, had directed the Police Internal Affairs director to send a team from headquarters to conduct investigations.

Tudravu had said then that if the allegations were proven to be true, those responsible would be charged and produced in court.

This is not the first time police officers had been accused of assault or linked to the death of civilian.

On 29 October, the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission launched an investigation into police officers over two separate incidents - one involving a robbery suspect who died during his alleged arrest two weeks earlier.

The second investigation involved the alleged wrongful detainment of a group of men by police.

Commissioner Ashwin Raj said that on Batai's claims, his office had completed their independent investigation into the matter.

Raj had also said that the commission had submitted its report to police in relation to the alleged assault of the deceased.

He said on 18 November, the commission visited Batai at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva after learning he was unwell and undergoing medical treatment at the hospital.

Raj said the commission then wrote to the hospital's medical superintendent the next day and enquired whether Batai's ailing health was a result of his assault on 8 August.

But Raj said he did not receive a response from the hospital.

He has since urged police to 'expeditiously conclude its investigations because Ilaisa Batai had not lived to see justice'.

Raj said the commission denounced all acts of brutality at the hands of law enforcement agencies and called for accountability without impunity.