|Vilikesa Soko RIP|
Vilikesa Soko was arrested in August last year on suspicion of robbery after $FJ50,000 dollars was stolen from a foreign exchange store in Nadi.
He died a few days later from multiple traumatic injuries and alleged 'traumatic rectal injury.'
Vilikesa is believed to have been assaulted. His medical report says he died as a result of a blood clot in his lungs, multi-organ failure and 'severe trauma to the penis'.
Police claimed after he died that Soko was sickly, but the lie was thwarted by an investigation by Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald.
Today, eight police officers and a soldier were charged with manslaughter, assault and rape. Manslaughter, not murder.
Two will face a further charge of perverting the course of justice by instructing fellow officers to make false statements.
A second robbery suspect, 37 year old Eroni Baleinukulala, was also beaten.
Today's charges is heartening news but is a sad reminder of others who've also died or who have been maimed while in the hands of authorities - and the worrying concern of what is clearly systematic and ongoing abuse of citizens, guilty or otherwise of a crime.
Remember Epeli Qaraniqio, who escaped from Naboro and who had to have his leg amputated after he was recaptured and beaten by police. Isoa Waqa, who escaped with him, died after his beating.
We also can't go past the beating and torture of remand prisoner Iowane Benedito, who was repeatedly assaulted on the back of a truck by our so-called security forces as well as police and officers from the Corrections Department.
It's thanks largely again to Ben Groenewald that police have 'reopened' the case and Benedito has agreed to pursue charges.
The injuries suffered are all too common - beatings and torture, including guns being shoved up their asses or 'alleged rectal injuries' as their medical reports so politely put it.
When will this inhumane treatment of citizens, accused thieves or otherwise, stop?