Fiji Time: 3:10 PM on Monday 19 March

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Media personnel left in the dark as police probe crash

Luke Rawalai And Serafina Silaitoga
Saturday, March 03, 2018

MEDIA personnel in the North were escorted out of the Labasa Hospital mortuary premises yesterday.

The media team waited all day outside the hospital gates as the bodies of Merelesita Lutu and Iliesa Tawalo arrived.

Among them were members of the public who also wanted to pay their last respects.

Police told members of the media that they had been directed by their command centre to keep the area clear.

Since the tragic incident was reported, the media has been left in the dark about developments of the crash and given no proper briefing.

The villagers, who helped out with the search, were also advised not to speak to the media about any issues regarding the crash or their involvement with the search.

Suweni Village headman Waisale Cabenasiga said they could not talk to the media.

Mr Cabenasiga said they had been warned not to talk to the media or else face the repercussions and be taken to task.

He said youths in the village were scared to talk to the media even of their experiences or have their pictures taken.

He added they had been told to speak only when the body of the crash victims had been removed from the wreckage at Delaikoro.

Questions sent to Fiji Human Rights and Anti Discrimination director Ashwin Raj on Thursday remained unanswered.

However, last night, Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu said the conduct of the officers was regrettable as they were extremely focused on ensuring the recovery operations from the crash site to the hospital for the post-mortem examination.

This, he said, was done to ensure the investigations were completed without any incident as every aspect would be crucial to the investigation process.

"The actions of the officers in no way means that we do not respect the rights of the media as we fully understand and recognise their roles as the media has an important role to play," he said.

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