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Tuesday 10 May 2016 | Published in Regional


FIJI – Murder charges levelled at four Fijian men have been discontinued by the nation’s prosecutor because of concerns their confessions were obtained under duress.

Fiji’s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Pryde said in a statement: “It was clear that each of the accused had received unexplained injuries at the time of their caution interview whilst in police custody.

“It also appears that duress was also placed on the interviewing officers by their superiors to deny all allegations of assault.”

The accused men Jitendra Kumar, Subhash Chand, Parma Nand and Deo Chand were each charged with one count of murder for the death of Jagish Chand in 2010.

Pryde said with no admissible evidence against the accused other than the confession statements, it would not be proper to continue with the prosecution.

“I am therefore ending the prosecution and sending the file back to the Police Commissioner to investigate the allegations of assault in custody,” he said.

Fiji’s Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho issued a statement saying he respects the decision made and has given his assurances that a thorough investigation will be carried out into the allegations.

Rebecca Emery, from Amnesty New Zealand, told Pacific Beat she welcomed the decision.

“This is really important in a country that has a long history of police brutality, confessions obtained through duress and, at times, torture,” she said.

“For this case to be pushed back shows maybe the tide’s turning and that there’s a real intent from, in this case the Director of Public Prosecutions, that this kind of evidence won’t be admissible.”

Emery said there is some hope that a police internal investigation into the DPP’s allegations of confessions under duress would turn up any wrongdoing.

“There’s a new police commissioner in place who’s said a lot of things publicly, that he’s keen to lead the police in a new direction which abides by human rights practices,” she said.

In his statement, the Pryde added that the discontinuance did not amount to an acquittal of the four men.

“If further evidence is received from the police it will be considered and the charge against each person may be filed afresh,” Pryde said.

“Until that time, the matter is at an end.”