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10 June 2013

AUDIO: Ex-detective calls on Fiji police to speed up torture investigation

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In a nine minute YouTube video this man, the 24-year escaped prisoner Iowane Benedito, is beaten with metal and wooden poles. Image: Screenshot/YouTube.

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / ABC Radio Australia): Former Melbourne detective Charlie Bezzina says Fijian authorities should have already taken action over a video showing the torture of two prisoners.

Bezzina, who is a former Victoria Police detective with 38 years of experience in the force, says Fijian authorities should have been able to identify and prosecute the security personnel shown in a video torturing two prisoners.

The video was brought to the attention of the general public throughout Australasia in early March, and the police agreed to an internal investigation shortly after.

No news has since surfaced about the story, and Bezzina said in an interview with Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that authorities should have taken action by now:

“I think time is the issue. Four months, you would expect some results. It’s critical to keep the community and people involved in relation to where the investigation is. Ideally, critically is identifying obviously the two prisoners that allegedly have escaped, then identifying the culprits.

Okay, we accept that we’re being told that they are government officials of some sorts. We don’t know what type of officials. It really stinks that there’s something that the people in some authority may well been hiding something. […] Let’s not jump to conclusions, but we need answers. If you’re not proceeding with the investigation why aren’t you? Why aren’t these people brought to justice?" 

You can listen to the full interview with former detective Charlie Bezzina here

The graphic footage posted on YouTube shows one handcuffed man being savagely beaten with batons and metal bars, and another being set upon by a dog as the animal's handler encourages it. You can watch the video here. (You have to be a YouTube user to watch it.) 

Pacific Media Watch has covered this story extensively. Below are links to previously published articles on the Fiji torture story:

Fiji investigation into alleged police brutality

Viral 'horror' torture video prompts Fiji Times editorial

Corrections officers responsible for beating, claims anti-regime blog

Police confirm 'security personnel' responsible for brutal beating


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