Fiji Police will comment no more on Ratu Epenisa’s removal from Bau

POLICE Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho says he will not respond any further to media queries about the removal of Ratu Epenisa Cakobau from Bau Island and his subsequent detention. He issued this statement in response to comments from the Fiji Labour Party about last Friday’s incident. FLP provisional candidate and human rights lawyer Aman Ravindra-Singh had claimed police acted “illegally and unlawfully” in the arrest and subsequent detention and questioning of Ratu Epenisa and others. “Fiji police have the powers to arrest and detain persons who are suspected of breaking the law,” said Mr Ravindra-Singh. “However, a directive from the Native Lands Commission to stop the installation ceremony of a chief is not codified as a criminal act within the criminal laws of Fiji.” The Lautoka lawyer claimed that stopping the installation and the arrest and detention of Ratu Epenisa and others were illegal actions by police. In response to queries sent by this newspaper about the comments made by Mr Singh on behalf of the FLP, the police commissioner said no further statements would be issued. “We will not comment on the issue and we will not be drawn into responding on the issue anymore,” Brig-Gen Qiliho said. Ratu Epenisa was taken from his home on Bau Island at around 6am Friday last week by armed police and Republic of Fiji Military Forces soldiers for questioning regarding the installation of the new Vunivalu of Bau. At the time, Brig-Gen Qiliho said the Bauan chief had been taken in because of plans to go ahead with the installation despite a directive from the Native Lands Commission for it to be put on hold because of a dispute for the chiefly title.

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