Remand inmate’s father wants justice

Mum Arieta and dad Pelame Rokovino holds the picture of their son Sefanaia Turagadamudamu who was alledgedly beaten at Suva Remand Centre. Picture: RAMA

“WHAT I want is for relevant authorities to do something to provide justice not only to my son, but also to other inmates as well.”

This was shared by distraught father Pelame Rokovino while speaking to this newspaper on Thursday at his home in Tamavua, Suva about his son Sefanaia Turagadamudamu, a remand prisoner, who was allegedly brutally assaulted at the Suva Remand Centre in Korovou.

According to Mr Rokovino, it was through his daughter that he found out about his son’s case last Wednesday.

“I always go visit my son at the centre every Thursday and Tuesday. On Wednesday last week, my daughter came home after work and told me that I should go visit Sefanaia because she had seen pictures of his injury circulating on social media,” Mr Rokovino said.

“When I went last Thursday to visit him, I was denied a chance to do so,” he claimed.

“When I asked for the reason, the officers present advised me because of an incident that took place at the centre.

“I tried to talk to the officer in command there but again I was rejected. I also went to the supervisor and was told the same thing.

“Same day, I went to the Fiji Corrections Service headquarters and when I spoke to one of the officers advising him that my son’s injury photo was being circulated on social media, he denied this and the only thing he said was that a mobile was found in my son’s cell.”

Mr Rokovino said on Friday, he went to seek assistance from the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission in Suva.

“After running around for some time, I was told that my son was at the cell block at the Government Buildings waiting to appear in court,” he said.

“This is when I saw the real state of my son’s condition and injuries. I was shocked.

“I also did not know that he had filed for a medical examination to be done.

“He told me that the mobile incident story was not true and he got beaten up while trying to save another prisoner who was being beaten up by several officers,” he claimed. ”

He told me another officer then threw hot water on him during the ordeal.”

Mr Rokovino claimed (on Thursday) his son had not been taken to the hospital to treat his injuries since the incident and he was concerned for his welfare.

“I feel that the relevant authorities are playing a delay tactic and are not coming out clean about the incident,” he said.

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission confirmed receiving an official complaint from the parents on October 11.

Commission director Ashwin Raj said his office had contacted the Suva Remand Centre and notified them about the concerns raised by Mr Turagadamudamu’s parents and the need for urgent medical attention.

“The commission visited Sefanaia at the Suva Court Remand Cell on October 12,” Mr Raj said.

He said the commission again visited Sefanaia yesterday at the Suva Court Remand Cell and took his statement.

Mr Raj said the commission’s private solicitor intervened on behalf of the commission yesterday and brought to the court’s attention the human rights breaches in relation to Sefanaia Turagadamudamu.

Questions sent to the Fiji Corrections Service on Thursday via electronic mail (email) regarding the issue remained unanswered when this report went to press last night.