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Police brutality

Avinesh Gopal
Saturday, August 30, 2014

A FORMER police officer believes an independent body should be set up to investigate complaints of police brutality.

Naipote Vere, who served in the Fiji Police Force for 33 years, said members of the force should not investigate their own for alleged brutality against suspects.

Mr Vere, who is a lawyer, claimed the issue of "comradeship" often popped up when the police investigate their own for complaints such as police brutality.

"During my time with the police force, there was a complaint against a police officer for brutality," he said.

"The case was investigated by another officer and it was later found that he had fiddled around with investigations to make the case weak.

"So I was then tasked to investigate and both were charged — one for assault and the other for perverting the course of justice.

"As such, I'm saying comradeship exists when the police investigate their own officers for offences like assaulting suspects of crime.

"Therefore, there should be an independent body outside of the police force to investigate complaints against police officers like it is in some other countries."

Mr Vere, who is contesting the September 17 general election for the People's Democratic Party, said he hoped justice would prevail in the latest case of alleged police brutality.

Vilikesa Soko, a suspect in a daylight robbery in Nadi, died in Lautoka Hospital from injuries he allegedly suffered during his arrest.

Four police officers have been suspended as the police department conducts a criminal investigation into his death, which has caused a public outcry.

Commissioner of Police Ben Groenewald said the police force was leaving no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of what happened.

Mr Vere said apart from complaints of police brutality, the independent body should also investigate other complaints against officers which is currently being handled by the Police Professional Standards Unit.

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