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Fiji police 'disturbed' by horrific video

Published: 11:21AM Tuesday March 05, 2013 Source: ONE News

Fijian authorities have launched an investigation following the release of a video showing the beating of a suspected prisoner.

A nine minute video, which appears to show two men being repeatedly beaten with poles, as they lie huddled on the ground handcuffed and screaming in agony, was posted online.

Sources have told ONE News the man in the back of the pick-up truck is prisoner Iowane Benedito, who had escaped from custody, and that the other man pictured in the video was accused of harbouring him.

However, Fijian authorities would only say they understood the two men were recaptured prisoners, and would not confirm if police were involved in the attack.

"Like every Fijian, we were disturbed to see the video that has emerged of what appears to be the abuse of two men who, at this stage, we understand to be recaptured prisoners," the Fijian police force said in a statement.

"We are not prepared to speculate on the identities of those involved, again so as not to prejudice the investigation.

"But we can assure you all that we are determined to expeditiously resolve this issue and indeed our investigations have already commenced."

The statement said they had already established the men are not the prisoners who escaped from Naboro last year.

ONE News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver said "police say they are dedicated to providing security for ordinary Fijians and they say their investigation will be done much in the same way as a similar investigation in New Zealand would be done".

The video has since been removed from Facebook.


Amnesty International says the footage appears consistent with earlier reports of brutality against prisoners.

"The Fijian authorities must treat this shocking footage with the utmost seriousness and immediately initiate an independent investigation," said Amnesty International executive director Grant Bayldon.

"While the video is still to be verified what is clear is that torture is unacceptable under any circumstances and those responsible must be brought to justice."

Sources have told ONE News the man in the back of the pick-up truck is prisoner Iowane Benedito, who had escaped from custody, and that the other man pictured in the video was accused of harbouring him.

Amnesty International is also calling for Fiji's military government to publically condemn torture and other ill treatment by military, police or prison officers.

Alleged torture led to amputation

The latest allegation of torture follows another in which Amnesty International wrote an open letter to interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama about five prisoners who were beaten.

Its East Asia head Roseann Rife wrote that one of the prisoners was so severely beaten his right leg had to be amputated as a result of an infected open fracture.

He was also unable to appear in court until two months after his recapture.

"There are certainly a number of allegations, credible allegations of brutality and torture in Fiji which amnesty international are deeply concerned about," said Bayldon.

New Zealand millionaire Ballu Khan was also beaten after being accused of masterminding an assassination plot against Banimarama.

"One of the officers was holding my head and kneeing me from the bottom I almost lost my left eye there was a sort of foregone conclusion i would die that night," Kahn told ONE News in 2008.

In another brutality case, three men are believed to have died after being taken into police and military custody in 2007.
Critics of Fiji's military regime want the UN to ban Fijian peacekeepers from their ranks.

"We cannot have these officers going overseas and seen as protectors of the law of the land and peacekeepers, when they cannot keep peace and protect the people who they were intrusted to protect in Fiji," said Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement spokesperson Rajesh Singh.

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