Newspaper report on Police inaction has inaccurate information: COMPOL
January 16, 2018 12:30 am
Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho has confirmed an investigation conducted into claims made about police inaction resulting in the death of a 23-year-old man reveals the newspaper article is riddled with inaccurate information.
The family had claimed that three police officers failed to save the man from strong currents in a river at Saweni in Lautoka.
Brigadier General Qiliho says the report has not only been sensationalized with the aim to discredit and bring disrepute to the institution but a complete fabrication of what transpired on the day.
The Police chief says they have collected sworn statements from eyewitnesses who said no such attempt was made on allegations of the officers not assisting the victim when he called for help.
Two women who were with the victim on the day he was jumping into the river said he had jumped in on four previous occasions and on his fifth jump, a police vehicle with officers who were returning from the scene where escapee Deshwar Dutt had hidden a stolen four wheel drive stopped to enquire what the three were doing.
The officer was informed that the victim had been jumping in and tried to push them in also but failed so he jumped alone.
The officer enquired why he was waving and shouting at the two women to which they responded that he was pulling a prank as he had been doing that on the four previous jumps.
The officer then instructed the victim to swim to the river bank before getting in the vehicle and leaving the scene.
However, a few meters away they saw one of the women running and waving for the vehicle to stop informing the officers the victim had disappeared and failed to resurface.
Qiliho says the claims that the officers failed to jump in to save the victim was sensationalized without proper information gathered about the situation at the time of the incident.
The Police Commissioner says he fully supports the decision by his officers not to jump in considering the imminent danger considering the currents were strong and would have been swept away and also due to the fact that the victim was nowhere to be seen.
Qiliho adds an expatriate former Navy diver and qualified lifeguard with decades of experience who lived a few meters from the scene rushed to the scene with his wife however when urged to jump in and assist, he stated in his sworn statement that it would have been extremely unwise and dangerous to jump in to the river as the current was too strong.
Qiliho says claims also made about having only one officer deployed during the search period was also false.
Qiliho confirms six officers were deployed with only one wearing uniform while the others were dressed in civilian as it would have been entirely impractical to be fully dressed in uniform and conduct a search operation in the said environment.
He says an officer even used his own fiber glass boat and fuel to assist in the search.
The Police Chief adds residents living near the area know the dangers of swimming in the river and this was also stated by a close relative of the victim who said 25 people had died in previous years.
Qiliho says they will be looking at the necessary provisions of the law to take legal action against the newspaper company as information gathered during the investigation showed the article has been sensationalized and published with inaccurate information.
FBC News has sent questions and calls to the newspaper outlet however they remain answered.