Tonga Police officers suspended on serious breach of discipline charges over death of man in custody

The Tonga Police Force has suspended two of its officers from police duty on serious breaches of discipline charges related to investigations into the death of a man in police custody.

The suspension was confirmed by Police Commissioner Shane McLennan yesterday following an inquest into the death of 22-year-old Feleti Manutahi Pouono.

The inquest panel chaired by Magistrate Salesi Mafi concluded that the cause of Pouono’s death was suicide.

Pouono, who is from Lapaha, was found dead in a cell at Mu’a Police Station on Saturday, 23 July 2022.

His body was released to his family last night following the conclusion of the inquest.

Inspections were conducted and all Police cells on Tongatapu except the one at Central Police Station in Nuku’alofa have been closed until further notice.

Commissioner McLennan said Tonga Police Senior Executive are also ensuring strong compliance with custody management processes, particular at this time on the outer islands.

“Work structures and practices are being amended or redesigned to reinforce safety for both staff and custodians. 

“Review of the Custody Management Policy completes this week.” 

“A training schedule on relevant legislation, policy and human rights issues is set to run at each police station starting next week,” a police statement said. 

 

Photo supplied  Caption: Police Commissioner Shane McLennan