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Police promise probe

Nasik Swami
Saturday, July 26, 2014

POLICE Commissioner Ben Groenewald has assured Fiji he will investigate all complaints against government and police, including those who Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama previously said he would stand by.

Mr Groenewald said he would ensure justice to all those whose complaints had not been addressed, and he was ready to reopen cases where there was merit for further investigation.

He made these comments in response to People's Democratic Party leader Felix Anthony's statement challenging him to address human rights injustices allegedly caused by members of Fiji's disciplinary forces.

Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama, on March 8 last year, said he would stand by his men, police officers or anyone else, who may be named in investigations in the brutal beating of two men shown in an online video. Quoted in media reports, he had said while people were speculating on who all were involved as shown in the footage and were saying excessive force was used, people should know that security personnel had worked hard to protect the citizens of Fiji from hardened criminals.

But the commissioner said he would not favour anyone, even if the accused was the prime minister, a politician or a police officer.

"If a person breaks the law, we will investigate and will be charged accordingly," Mr Groenewald told The Fiji Times.

"It doesn't matter who the person is. Whether it's a police, politician or whether it is any person of the public, the same process will be followed and we will submit the case to the DPP."

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Anthony also claimed he was beaten and tortured by police and military officers, among other civilians, and the force had failed to investigate the matter so far.

Mr Groenewald said he was aware of Mr Antony's accusation.

"I saw the docket a week ago and the case was withdrawn because the complainant never submitted his medical report as was requested.

"I spoke to the divisional chief of CID in the West.

"He assured me that after many requests to the complainant to submit his medical report, he did not submit his medical report and the case was closed because of no co-operation from the complainant."

Mr Groenewald said he was more than welcome to table the matter with Mr Anthony.

On the investigations into the alleged brutal beating of two prison escapees last year, he said he was only made aware of the case three weeks ago.

"I requested and indicated that the case has been sent to the public prosecutor and we have received the docket."

Mr Anthony invited the commissioner to investigate not only the alleged beatings of the prisoners but also the beatings of citizens who were subjected to intimidation.

"So the Police Commissioner, I believe, has got much to do if he is to get recognition for the work that he is supposed to be doing in this country.

"We'll wait to see how the commissioner will act upon complaints that have been made against this government as far as human rights abuses have gone in the country," he said.

Mr Groenewald responded if there was concrete evidence or complaints by public that police did not properly investigate, they could approach them and "I will be more than glad to reopen any case if there is a need for that".





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