Fiji songwriter Josefa Bilitaki ‘punched, slapped’ after sending angry text message to PM Frank Bainimarama
A Fiji songwriter says he was punched and slapped by an army officer after sending a drunken, abusive text message to prime minister Frank Bainimarama.
Josefa Bilitaki sent an angry text message to the Prime Minister’s phone last Friday, in a row over what he said was the unauthorised use of his songs during the recent election campaign.
Later that night a police officer and four soldiers turned up at his house and bundled him into a car, he alleged.
In a statement Mr Bilitaki, 60, said they took him to another location where one of the soldiers punched and slapped him in the face and mouth, bashed his head against a windscreen, and threatened to kill him.
He said he was then thrown into a cell at a police station but was taken to a hospital the next day and treated for high blood pressure.
Earlier this week, Fiji’s police commissioner Ben Groenewald released a statement saying the incident was being investigated.
He said a “task team” visited Mr Bilitaki and took him to a police station for the “alleged offence of annoyance”.
“The allegation of assault against Mr Bilitaki is void of all truth,” he said in the statement.
“I am urging people not to jump to conclusions [based] on what they read on social media.
“The case is under investigation and will be submitted to the Office of Director Public Prosecution once completed.”
Amnesty International has condemned the incident, saying Fiji needs to show it is taking human rights issues seriously.