Force was used, witnesses claim

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj. Picture: FT FILE

Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission (FHRADC) director Ashwin Raj says based on witness statements, it has established that Mesake Sinu Leleiwasa had “allegedly sustained injuries in the course of his apprehension”.

“Witnesses claim excessive force may have been used during his arrest as they heard the victim crying in pain and agony,” Mr Raj said in a statement issued on Friday.

It had initially been alleged Mr Sinu died from injuries sustained after he jumped from a double-storey building in a robbery gone wrong on October 12.

Mr Raj said the FHRADC began investigations after an official complaint was lodged by a close relative of the victim on October 13.

“An investigation team travelled to Nadi on October 14 and commenced its independent investigations into the death of the 46-year-old.”

He said the commission had obtained a copy of the victim’s medical cause of death certificate which said “disease or condition directly leading to death is extensive intracranial hemorrhage due to (or as a consequence of) severe traumatic head injury” and the external cause of injury was “blunt force trauma”.

“The commission reiterates its stance that such acts of gratuitous violence must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible must be held accountable through the criminal justice system.

“A life has been lost. This is an egregious violation of the victim’s right to life.”

Meanwhile, Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu issued a directive for an internal investigation into the incident.

He said those found responsible would be charged and produced before a court of law.

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