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Police make eighth arrest in nightclub brawl case

Wednesday 15 November 2023 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Court, National


Police make eighth arrest in nightclub brawl case

Police have made another arrest in connection with last week’s brawl at a Rarotonga nightclub, as an online petition questioning the bail conditions of co-accused continues to gain traction.

Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said an eighth person has been arrested in connection with the recent Rehab brawl.

A 25-year-old male, an overseas resident and part of the Australian group involved in the brawl, was remanded into custody on Monday afternoon, awaiting a court appearance on a charge of fighting in public. He is expected to appear in court today.

Police investigators were continuing their work yesterday as information continues to be gathered for prosecution, Pitt said.

The accused were allegedly involved in a fight at the Rehab Nightclub late Wednesday evening in which two stabbings were reported, multiple people including Rehab staff received injuries, and police backup was required to get the situation under control.

Seven people have appeared in court charged with fighting, assaulting a police officer, and injuring with intent.

Six, who are of Cook Islands descent from Australia, were released on bail on Friday to attend a wedding at The Edgewater Resort. They are Akatau Taia, charged with fighting, assaulting a female, and common assault; Tokoiva Niukore, charged with fighting; Sinatare Maretu, charged with fighting; Marlon Maretu, charged with fighting; Poutapu Maretu, facing two charges of assaulting a police officer; and Tiare Mareku, charged with injuring with intent.

They had to surrender their passports, not leave Rarotonga without permission from the High Court, not interfere with witnesses, not purchase or consume alcohol, not enter licensed premises, and not offer violence as part of their bail conditions.

A seventh man, Tangimetua Tangimetua, also allegedly involved in the “full-on brawl”, was remanded in custody on Friday for his own safety and with a previous conviction for a similar offense. He is charged with assault with intent.

All seven men are due to reappear in court on Thursday.

Meanwhile, an online petition asking for the rearrest of six accused men out on bail is gaining momentum, with over 5200 signatures (as of 5pm yesterday) and numerous comments supporting the call.

Cook Islander Teherenui Koteka, who started the petition, said in an earlier statement to Cook Islands News that the men released on bail showed no remorse for their actions, “going as far as to flaunt their release on social media”.

The Edgewater Resort, where they were documented attending a wedding, is a licensed premises as it “allows for the sale and consumption of alcohol on the premises”, Koteka added.

She said the Ministry of Justice and Police were funded by the Cook Islands taxpayers “and should be operating in the interest of protecting members of our community”.

Pitt told Cook Islands News on Monday that police would not be making any comment on the matter as it was now before the court and the investigation is continuing.