Tonga’s Minister of Police has returned to his office after Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva rejected his shock resignation.
Hon. Tapueluelu confirmed he has returned to work.
The Prime Minister said Tapueluelu resigned after he felt his cabinet colleagues were not keen to support a cabinet submission he initiated to sack Police Commissioner Steve Caldwell.
In his email to Kaniva News yesterday it appeared the Minister’s working relationship with Mr. Caldwell was still in trouble.
Hon. Tapueluelu told us he was concerned at “lack of supervision” by the Ministry of Police under the control of Mr Caldwell.
Hon. Tapueluelu referred to recent criminal activities including a jailbreak last month which saw five prisoners fleeing a prison in Nukunuku and disappeared into the community.
Hon. Tapueluelu said two of these prisoners were later arrested and charged in relation to the death of a Chinese couple Police found their bodies in a bush allotment in Matafonua on February 25.
The Minister said he was concerned that this had happened while the king was in China.
He said the alleged killing of the Chinese couple came after an American citizen, Dean Jay Fletcher, who was accused of killing his wife in Vava’u, escaped a prison in Neiafu in 2016 and managed to flee the kingdom and arrived in Samoa.
Fletcher was then escorted to Hawai’i where the US authorities eventually freed him.
Hon. Tapueluelu claimed no one in the Vava’u Police had been held accountable after the Fletcher case.
Caldwell told Kaniva News in an email that he is confined by what he can say publicly on individual criminal and disciplinary cases currently under investigation.
As we reported, concerns at whether or not any disciplinary actions were made against Vava’u Police officers in regard to Fletcher’s case had been raised in a petition to the Police Minister by three suspended Officers last month.
Mr Caldwell said the complaints were not new to him and claimed those cases had been relitigated on previous occasions.
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