September 26, 2012

Police defend use of force

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

THE police have confirmed that "reasonable force" was used to capture four prison escapees at Uduya Point outside Lami Town last Friday.

Assistant Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu told The Fiji Times, three of the escapees remain admitted in the Colonial War Memorial Hospital and one was in police custody.

As a result of "reasonable force" being used, the escapees were unfit to attend court on Monday when their case was called. "Reasonable force was used," ACP Tudravu said.

"The escapees resisted arrest and in order to get them, the operation officers used reasonable force which is why they are now under observation at the hospital."

ACP Tudravu said the injuries suffered by the escapees were minor.

Asked whether guns were also fired, he declined to comment, saying only that the operation was a joint one with the military and the Corrections Service.

ACP Tudravu said escapees Solomoni Qurai, Tevita Sugu, Josaia Usumaki and Epeli Qaraniqio were under police guard at the CWM Hospital.

He said they were a threat and would remain under guard until fit for interrogation. ACP Tudravu said the police joint operation with the military and Fiji Corrections Service would be called off in a few days time.

And as a result people should expect less roadblocks and checkpoints around the country.

ACP Tudravu said in an attempt to capture the five prison escapees who escaped from the Naboro medium facility last Monday they boosted their presence around the country.

Checkpoints were erected around the Central Division.

Members of the public have been urged that if they see any suspicious activities happening around them, they should immediately contact their nearest police post or police station.

The four are expected to appear in the Suva Magistrates Court on October 1 before Chief Magistrate Usaia Ratuvili.

Meanwhile, permanent secretary for Information Sharon Smith-Johns said: "The Fijian government does not condone the excessive force used in the apprehension of recaptured prisoners who escaped from Naboro Prison on Monday night."

Ms Smith-Johns said such incidents were unfortunate and the government made it clear that behaviour of this nature was unacceptable.

"We are investigating the circumstances," she said.

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