Last charge in police brawl, denied

Saturday July 25, 2020 Written by Published in Crime
Dad-of-five Aue Vakatini. 19090422 Dad-of-five Aue Vakatini. 19090422

A father-of-five has denied threatening to kill a police officer.

Aue Vakatini has been at the centre of a fraught court case since September last year, after police arrested him outside the Raro Fried Chicken in Avarua, accusing him of drunkenly assaulting a police officer.

Vakatini had been talking to his wife and five-year old daughter who were in their car, when he said he was confronted by police. He said they punched him on the right side of his jaw.

He was arrested late on the Saturday night, and released from custody on the Monday morning after missing out on Father’s Day. He came out of the police cell with a broken jaw that he said was caused by a police punch.

Police said he was the one to blame – but then mobile phone footage was shared on social media, showing police throwing Vakatini to the ground and punching him in the head.

Crown Law took over the prosecution from Police, and dropped charges that Vakatini assaulted the police officer, Faarii Moekapiti, and wilfully damaged a police car. But they are proceeding with a charge that he threatened the officer.

Crown Prosecutor Jana Epati had earlier said that they were looking for CCTV footage of the remaining charge.

Vakatini’s lawyer Mark Short entered a not guilty plea before Justice of the Peace Bernice Manarangi yesterday. He said a memo would be sent to Crown Law to confirm whether they elected a judge alone trial or jury trial.

Meanwhlie, Moekapiti has been suspended and charged with assaulting Vakatini, with intent to injure. He has denied the charge  and elected a judge and jury trial.

Both trial dates are to be confirmed by the Court registrar.

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