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SUVA: Fiji’s military leader has vowed to stick by his men, dismissing international concerns about an online video that appears to show two men being tortured by officials.
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.
Radio New Zealand reported this week that police in the Pacific nation had determined the attackers in the video, which New Zealand Prime Minister John Key described as “alarming and disturbing”, were security personnel.
Fiji’s leader Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in a 2006 coup, said on Friday that he would stand by officers implicated in the video, which Amnesty suspects was taken last year and shows prison escapees being abused.
“At the end of the day, I will stick by my men, by the police officers or anyone else that might be named in this investigation,” he told news website Fijivillage in his first comments on the video.
“We cannot discard them just because they’ve done their duty in looking after the security of this nation and making sure we sleep peacefully at night.”
The nine-minute clip, which appears to have been shot with a mobile phone, shows a man being repeatedly struck with bars and batons while he lies in the back of a pick-up truck.
Later in the video, a man hammers at the victim’s ankle with the edge of a metal rod and he is shown stripped down to a T-shirt, with raised welts visible on his thighs and buttocks as he curls in a foetal position to protect himself.
Another man is dragged around a field by a dog latched onto the collar of his bloodied shirt as his attackers laugh, then falls to his knees as he is punched in the head numerous times.
Amnesty International called for an independent investigation.