A Tongan judge has questioned why two policeman escaped murder charges in relation to the death of a Kiwi policeman who suffered fatal injuries while under police custody.
Constable Kali Fungavaka, 38, died on Thursday six days after he was allegedly assaulted in a police cell in Nuku'alofa.
Civilian Semisi Kalisitiane Manu appeared in the Nuku'alofa Magistrate's Court today charged with the murder of Fungavaka, Matangi Tonga reported. Manu had initially been charged with grievous bodily harm.
Tongan policemen Salesi Maile and Fatai Faletau also appeared in court on charges of grievous bodily harm in relation with the death.
In front of a packed court, Judge Pita Soakimi queried why the two policemen had not been charged with murder when Manu, a civilian, was charged with the new count of murder.
Police Prosecutor Mema Latu replied that the two policemen had assaulted Fungavaka before he was placed in a cell with Manu.
He said their investigations were continuing, and further examination on the victim's body would be carried out in New Zealand.
Fungavaka, who was awarded a New Zealand Bravery Medal, had been in Tonga for his grandfather's funeral.
He was a pallbearer, but later that night was arrested at a club in Nuku'alofa for what police said was a minor "drunkenness offence".
It was there that the 38-year-old suffered major head injuries after he was allegedly assaulted by two police officers and then by another man in the police cells.
The three men were remanded in custody and will reappear in court on September 24.