Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Justice for Vilikesa Soko

In August 2014, Fijian police arrested Vilikesa Soko in connection with a robbery. They then beat and raped him to death. Yesterday, eight police officers and a solider were sentenced to between seven and nine years jail for that crime:

Eight police officers and a military officer convicted of rape, sexual assault and perverting the course of justice in Fiji have been given custodial sentences by the Lautoka High Court.

The nine men attacked two prisoners, one of whom, Vilikesa Soko, died of his injuries while in custody in Lautoka Hospital in August 2014.

But note what they weren't sentenced for: murder. Despite beating and raping him so badly that he died, charges of manslaughter were inexplicibly dropped. And it will be interesting to see whether these criminals will serve their sentences, or be pardoned by the regime (the solider is a former bodyguard to Frank Bainimarama).

Vilikesa Soko's death wasn't political. Fiji's police routinely beat and torture suspects, with the result that serious charges are frequently dropped due to the "confessions" being inadmissible. Hopefully these convictions will help change that pattern.