The Fiji Police Force is investigating a post on social media which claimed that officers were allegedly responsible for the death of a 17-year-old student in the Western Division at the height of Tropical Cyclone Keni.
While sending the Police force’s condolences to the family of the teenager, acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu said this was another attempt to discredit the officers’ hard work.
A post on Facebook believed to be by a Fijian national now living overseas claimed the teenager was detained by officers and assaulted in custody. The post, which was then shared on the Fiji Exposed Forum page and in which a former Cabinet minister was tagged, claimed that the teenager died in hospital as a result of the beating.
However, relatives of the teenager then responded to the initial post on Facebook refuting the claims and saying that the 17-year-old had been suffering an ailment for a while. A woman relative who spoke to the Fiji Sun on condition of anonymity said the teenager had been sick for a while and eventually succumbed to that sickness when he was taken to hospital.
In a statement, Acting Commissioner Tudravu said the extent to which some self-centred social media users used the teenager’s death “for political gain and to bring disrepute to the Fiji Police Force is extremely disturbing.
“It shows that there are some people who will stoop so low for personal gain,” he said.
“What is truly disturbing is the lack of respect shown for the student and his family who are going through a difficult time with the loss of their loved one, only to find out that his death is being used by some cowards hiding behind fake profiles to gain attention.
“People sharing and commenting on the post are equally guilty of adding to the suffering of the grieving family.”
Acting Commissioner Tudravu said they had spoken to the grieving parents who refuted all Police brutality claims.
“Our condolences go out to the family and we will be conducting an investigation into those responsible for the post,” he said.
“Over the past few weeks our officers have worked hard and sacrificed time with their families to ensure people were safe during the two tropical cyclones.
“A number of our officers were also affected, however they stayed loyal to their calling and worked throughout in rescue efforts and routine operations and this post is another attempt to discredit their hard work.”