Tonga policemen face charges over Kiwi's cell death

Two Tongan policemen are to be charged with the manslaughter of a New Zealand police officer who died after being assaulted while in custody, Tonga's police commissioner Grant O'Fee said Friday.

The Tongan policemen had initially been accused of assaulting Kali Fungavaka but will face the upgraded charge when they reappear in court on Monday.

A civilian who was initially charged with murdering Fungavaka will have his charge reduced to manslaughter.

Fungavaka, who won a bravery award in New Zealand in 2006, was arrested two weeks ago for "minor drunkenness" while in Tonga for a funeral.

He suffered head injuries when assaulted in his cell and died in hospital.

O'Fee said he was deeply concerned about the killing and further charges could be laid.

"This young fellow was beaten to death, it's as simple as that, and however distasteful this may be, that is what happened," he said.

"We will uncover the truth of this matter, it will take us more than a few weeks or a few months, but we will get there."