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March 7, 2013



A horrific video which appears to show Fijian officials beating and torturing several men last year has emerged.

Sources who posted the nine-minute video overnight do not detail where it was filmed other than saying it was last year. is only running a short excerpt due to the incredibly graphic footage.  One anti-regime blog site this morning identifies the man in the pick up as Epeli Qaraniqio and the postings point the finger at police and the army. Those posting online said Qaraniqio eventually had to have a leg amputated and that he suffered severe internal injuries.

Fiji police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri declined to comment on the video, saying it had only become aware of it this morning. He said police would investigate and comment later if necessary.   Qaraniqio was one of five prisoners who escaped from Fiji’s Naboro jail last year and were eventually recaptured. His case was the subject of a complaint by Amnesty International in December.

In the video Qaraniqio can be seen lying on the deck of a pickup truck as he is repeatedly and savagely assaulted.  At one point he is stripped of his shorts and attacked. Another man on the ground is also beaten.

A person involved with posting the video said the men doing the beating were not wearing police uniforms other than wearing boots known to be police issue. A police truncheon was also used.  From what the men were saying, and particularly the one standing on the ute’s tray, it was apparent he was an officer – but it is not clear whether he is military or police.

The officers accuse the man in the ute of “planning this escape” – they say in Fijian: “This escape was your doing – you planned it.”  As he is being hit, the officers as saying “Dro tale, dro…” which means “escape again, escape…” while beating his legs.

On December 7 last year Amnesty International wrote to Fiji coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama protesting at what it said was the torture of five men when recaptured by police security forces at Uduya Point on September 21.

It said that police security forces at Uduya Point in Fiji captured them. When the men eventually came to court they were severely injured.  ”Qaraniqio’s injuries were so severe that he was only fit to reappear in court on 16 November… nearly two months after his recapture,” Roseann Rife, head of Amnesty’s East Asia division wrote.

”During this time, his right leg had been amputated below the knee as a result of an open fracture which became infected.”

Amnesty said their evidence was that the men had complied with the directions of armed military officers and did not resist arrest. ”The testimony states that armed military officers tortured the men following their recapture at Uduya Point,” Amnesty said.   ”The men were handcuffed and beaten.”

It said they were taken to the mainland by boat but along the way Qaraniqio was thrown into the sea several times.  The men were then taken to the Queen Elizabeth Barracks and further tortured, Amnesty said.

”The testimony says that the men were forced to take off all their clothes and left naked in dark cells,” the report said.  ”The men were kicked, hit with the butts of guns, sworn at, spat on and had hot water poured on them.

”One of the men was unconscious for most of two days in which he was in military custody at . . .  barracks.” Amnesty said.  Officers sexually assaulted one prisoner.  At the time local media said police force chief operations officer Rusiate Tudravu declined comment on the conditions of the men, other than to claim that Qaraniqio lost his leg due to diabetes.

– © Fairfax NZ News

Posted by Rusi Varani for SWM
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