The cause of death of a man at a Mu’a police cell was suicide, an inquest panel said today.
22-year-old Feleti Manutahi Pouono of Lapaha was found dead in the prison cell on Saturday, July 23, 2022.
The panel also found two police officers seriously breached disciplinary policy in relation to Pouono’s death. The officers had been suspended from the force.
“Commissioner Shane McLennan confirms two police officers were suspended yesterday from police duty on serious breaches of discipline charges, identified by the ongoing investigations into this matter”, a police statement said.
All Police cells on Tongatapu except for those at the Central Police Station, Nuku’alofa are now closed until further notice, it said.
In an attempt to fix the problem “Tonga Police Senior Executive are also ensuring strong compliance with custody management processes, particular at this time on the outer islands.
“Work structures and practices are being amended or redesigned to reinforce safety for both staff and custodians.
“Review of the Custody Management Policy completes this week.” 5) A training schedule on relevant legislation, policy and human rights issues is set to run at each police station starting next week.”
The inquest panel was chaired by Magistrate Salesi Mafi ‘concluded cause of death was suicide and the deceased to be released to his family at 6pm today’.
Other members of the panel included the Lapaha District and Town Officers and independent members of the community.
The investigation was conducted after a 69-year-old man died earlier this month at Mu’a Police custody.