Asian Human Rights Commission
Police in Sri Lanka committed the following cases of torture and killing between January 2003 and February 2004. The 31 cases and 46 victims of 29 police stations referred to here do not amount to the total number of cases received by the Asian Human Rights Commission in the said period, as some cases have been excluded from this report due to factual inconsistencies or other deficiencies.
All but one of the cases have been reported and acted upon through the Urgent Appeals (UA) programme of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The UA number and date of issue in each case is given in the column notes. Inquiries are pending in most cases.
1. Koralagamage S D: Illegally detained and allegedly tortured for a week
Police of Kaluthara South CID arrested KORALAGAMAGE Sujith Dharmasiri (23), an army deserter, on 1 January 2003 and held him until January 9, during which time he was allegedly tortured. IP P L Abeysinghe and several other police officers took him while he was attending a funeral, and kept him in custody illegally for the week. Although his mother went to the police station daily from January 2, she was abused with filthy language and chased away on every occasion until January 7, when she was finally permitted access to her son. On January 8, she was challenged, “Try if you can to get him out by complaining to the NHRC. We will see that he will not get bail.” After that she was again chased away. Nonetheless, the family sought intervention by the NHRC and local human rights groups, and after Sujith went missing for a short period on January 9, he was produced before a magistrate.
According to the family, Sujith was being deliberately kept somewhere outside the police station. During that time, the police took him to a doctor and attempted to get a medical report to the effect that there were no injuries on his body. However, Sujith told the doctor he was assaulted severely. The police then went to a magistrate and applied to hold Sujith on the grounds that he was needed for an identification parade. Without seeing or questioning Sujith, the magistrate reportedly remanded him until January 20. He was subsequently bailed out, and has since filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court against the police for torture, illegal arrest and illegal detention.
2. Bambardene Gamage S P: Child beaten and humiliated for alleged theft
SI Romiyal of the Matugama police station entered the house of 17-year-old Bambarende Gamage Suraj Prasanna together with another officer and arrested him around 1pm on 8 January 2003. SI Romiyal then allegedly began hitting Suraj in the face and asking him whether he was the one that stole the money from the temple till, after which he pulled of his T-shirt and used it to tie his hands behind his back. He then continued to beat Suraj while dragging him along the road to a Dolphine van (licence plate 56-5183), which he then used to take the boy to the Matugama police station. After putting him in a cell, the sub-inspector reportedly took hold of Suraj’s hair and beat his face against the iron bars. A number of other officers took turns hitting his face against the bars with his hair. At about 4pm, Suraj was taken out of the cell and made to crawl on his knees for fifteen minutes, during which time SI Romiyal beat him with his hands and feet and ordered him to kneel and worship other police officers by holding their feet.
The police released Suraj at about 4:30pm with the strict warning that if he returned home before dusk he would be killed. Through fear, the boy stayed near a shop until about 8pm, after which time he returned home, narrated the whole incident and was admitted to the Wattawe government hospital. He was treated there until January 10, after which time he was transferred to Nagoda General Hospital for further treatment.
3. T A Premachandra: Shot dead because of alleged traffic offence
On 1 February 2003 at about 10:30pm, T A Premachandra, a father of two children, was driving his motorized trishaw home from his work as an electrician at the Ceylon Electricity Board, with two companions in the back. Two officers of the police traffic unit at Kaluthara South overtook the vehicle from the left on their motorcycle and shot the driver in the head with a T-56 rifle. The bullet entered the victim’s head near his left ear and came out at his right eye, killing him instantly. The vehicle crashed into a lamppost and overturned, causing severe injuries to the two men in the back. When one of them tried to use his mobile phone to call his family for help, the police reportedly kicked him and confiscated the phone. A jeep from the Kaluthara South police station arrived shortly and took the two injured and the dead man to the Base Hospital at Nagoda, where the dead body was handed over to the hospital, while the two injured were taken to the police station and arrested. They were not even given water till the post mortem examination was conducted the following day, February 2, after which time they were allowed to enter the hospital.
The two police officers responsible said that the driver was shot because he refused to stop when ordered to do so. They claimed to have been acting on information received from Wadduwa police station that the said vehicle had been involved in an accident with a van. They also claimed that the shot was fired at the tire of the vehicle but due to ruts on the road it went astray. ASP Jayantha Kulathilaka, heading the post mortem investigation, told journalists that the police had acted within the law. The case has been investigated further, but the results have not been made public.
4. M A Fernando: “Get up, you are just pretending”
While presenting his petition before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, Michael Anthony FERNANDO was sentenced to one year in prison for contempt of court by the same judge against whom he was bringing a petition. For full details of the case, please see Sri Lanka Legal Reforms and Human Rights, (vol. 1, no. 3, October 2003), and regular updates on the AHRC website (www.ahrchk.net).
On 6 February 2003, while Mr Fernando was presenting a writ before the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka he was convicted for contempt of court and sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment. One of the presiding judges was a respondent to Mr Fernando’s claim. After Mr Fernando was taken to Welikada Prison he was hospitalized there due to a serious asthmatic condition. As his health worsened, he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit of the General Hospital. On February 8, he was taken out of that unit and put in Ward 44, but there he was not given a bed and was instead made to sleep on the floor with his leg chained, as required by the prison authorities. Two prison guards stayed with him. Due to sleeping on the floor, hE developed a chill and his condition again worsened. He was placed on a bed, but tossing and turning, he fell and injured himself. Then, although he was suffering pain all over his body, he was transferred back to the prison. Between 2 and 5pm on February 10, as he was being taken back to prison, he was beaten and kicked by the prison guards on the roadside and in the van used to carry him. On February 16 he submitted a complaint, as follows, which takes up the story.
On 10 February 2003, I had an asthma attack again. By then, I was discharged from the hospital. Because of the unbearable pain from the asthma attack, I turned on the bed, and I fell. The pain in my back due to the fall was very severe, making it very difficult for me to get up. One hospital servant began to shout, “These prisoners do not want to leave, even when they are all right. It is a terrible headache to us”…
Then the prison guards prepared to take me to the prison. I got up and shouted, “I cannot [go] as my back is severely in pain.”
Then a person wearing khaki trousers, a white shirt and boots asked, “Aren’t you the person from Dehiwela? We know who you are. Get up, get up. You are just acting. We will look after you.”
However, since I could not get up, I remained without moving.
Then the prison guards carried me out of the hospital to a vehicle. I was put down by the road near the hospital, and the prison guards began to assault me in front of my father. The person who assaulted me was the one in plainclothes…
When I was shouting in pain, my father (Oswald Emmanuel Fernando) came forward and begged the prison guards, saying, “You cannot take him except in an ambulance.”
The person in plainclothes did not listen to any of that. He caught me by the neck and pushed me inside the police van.
My father shouted, “Ayyo, they are trying to kill my son.”
People at the ward gathered around the van hearing my father’s cries. The only prisoner in the van was myself. Other than me, there was a prison officer, two guards and the driver.
The person who pushed me into the van kicked me very hard and slapped me on both cheeks. I knelt down inside the van. Then I was kicked several times on my spinal cord with his boots. I felt frightened that I would be killed. I shouted and begged, saying, “Do not kill me”…
When the van reached the prison premises, the same person said, “You have no sickness. Get down without pretending”, and he gave me a few kicks. I felt as if my spinal cord had been broken. I simply could not get up. I told him I couldn’t get up.
Then I was put on a stretcher, which looked like those used for carrying corpses, and taken to a nearby extremely foul-smelling toilet and told, “If you cannot get up, stay there.” Though I shouted many times “I cannot bear the terrible foul smell; take me away from here”, no one helped. They were saying, “You have no illness. You are pretending.”
Meanwhile, some prisoners came and told me to get up, to not pretend, and they harassed me. I felt that these prisoners came at the instigation of someone else. I begged them not to harass me. I may have been kept near the toilet for more than 24 hours.
Then I wanted to go to the toilet. I shouted, asking for help. However, no one helped me. “You are lying. Get up and go to the toilet”, someone cried from afar. As I could not bear the pain, I excreted there. I also found it very difficult to urinate. Though I shouted again to remove me from that spot, no one came to help me.
Then someone came and removed all of my clothes, making me completely naked. He said, “If you find it difficult to stay like this, get up and come.” I stayed a further 24 hours near the same toilet.
Then I refused to eat or drink and observed a fast, demanding that I be given medical treatment…
Then my urine became blood red. My blood was passing with my urine, and the prison authorities became fearful. They brought me back to the intensive care ward of the hospital [Ward 72] on February 17, at night. I was brought in a van as I was told that the prison does not have ambulances. I was told that however serious the prisoner’s condition was, this is how a person would be brought to the hospital.
At the hospital, I told the doctor about all of the cruelty and torture. I was told that what I had said was not recorded in the bed-head ticket-maybe because it was thought that it is not good to record that prison officers have treated a patient in this way…
Since Mr Fernando’s release from prison on 17 October 2003 he has been subjected to continuous threats due to his active campaigning for his rights. He has filed several cases against the prison guards who tortured him, however the dates for hearings have been postponed. He has also filed a communication before the United Nations Human Rights Committee challenging the validity of the Supreme Court Judgement as having no basis in law and as a violation of his fundamental rights. AHRC also presented Mr Fernando its inaugural Human Rights Defenders Award coinciding with his release. The former Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Dato’ Param Cumararswamy, has publicly denounced the Supreme Court judgement against Mr Fernando as an “act of injustice”. He had complained about death threats to the local authorities as well as to the Human Rights Committee.
Although on 9 January 2004 the Human Rights Committee instructed the Sri Lankan government to take all necessary measures to “protect the life, safety and personal integrity” of Mr Fernando, the government has failed to do so. On February 2, a group of unknown persons made an attempt on Mr Fernando’s life. As he was walking out of his house in the morning, a man ran up and sprayed chloroform onto his face, while a van pulled up nearby to take him away. He managed to escape by running in the opposite direction and hid in a shop managed by a friend. He was then taken to Kalubowila Hospital for treatment, and after his discharge on February 7, wrote the following:
From February 2, two armed police officers who has come under the instruction of the Ministry of Defence provided me with security at the hospital. They were there till I was discharged on February 7. They brought me back home, then they told me that they had instructions to give protection only at the hospital and till I was brought back home. They said there is nothing more that they can do and that if I need further protection I should talk to higher-ups and get such protection. Since then I have had no communication from the Ministry of Defence or any one else. I am in a completely helpless position. I cannot attend to my daily work or even help my family. I have to go from place to place looking for shelter like a fugitive.
I am frightened to think of what would have happened to me if the conspirators succeeded in taking me to the van and had taken me away. There were altogether three persons in the Van, which was waiting to take me. So, far no one has been arrested, though many statements were taken down from me. Though the UN Human Rights Committee has issued Interim Measures to the Government of Sri Lanka to take action to protect my life and those of my family and report to the HRC by 9th February 2004, I am completely without protection now. I have to live in hiding. I call upon everyone to intervene on my behalf to find protection for me.
In a letter of February 13 to the Attorney General Mr Fernando has also written that
I have no personal enemies. The only people who I can think of who would be behind such a conspiracy are those affected by the cases filed on the basis of my complaints. This is further confirmed by the fact that the threats I received before the 2 February 2004 incident were from people who wanted me to withdraw the cases in the magistrates court in Colombo, the Supreme Court and the UN Human Rights Committee. The investigators should give serious attention to this matter.
On March 2, the Australian government expressed concern over the case of Mr Fernando, and directed its High Commission in Colombo to make inquiries.
5. Sathasivam R: “No female in this universe could bear it”
Four officers from Methigiriya police station came for 23-year-old Sathasivam Rathykala while she was on duty as a casual attendant at Pollonaruwa General Hospital on 24 November 2001. They asked her to come and make a statement, and took her to their jeep. Once in the jeep they began slapping and kicking her, and abusing her with filthy language. Once at the police station they handed her over to CID personnel of Polonaruwa police station. Ms Sathasivam describes what happens next as follows:
Twelve CID personnel took me into a dark room where I was alone and there weren’t any females, either police or civilians. In the room they assaulted me, hit me with clubs and ropes, and trampled me all over my body with boots. They removed all my clothes except my panties and brassiere. I begged them to free me and give my clothes back, and I also told them that I was totally innocent.
Then they removed my remaining clothes, and I was completely nude. They were all under the influence of liquor, and the whole room smelt of it. Then they started burning with cigarette butts all over my body and blew the smoke on my face.
After doing all this unbearable torture the 12 of them raped me one after another. When I started groaning in unbearable pain and I was able to feel that I was profusely bleeding and my body was swelled up, one of them gave me a glass of milk tea. Feeling so thirsty, I took the glass of tea, but no sooner had I took it than I was feeling giddy and the whole room was turning. Then I fell unconscious.
When I came to, I found myself on a bed in a different room, all alone and completely nude. A few minutes later the same CID personnel came and mixed chilli powder with water and poured it into my eyes. When I started shouting in agony they forced rags into my mouth.
Then they threatened to kill me. They wanted me to admit that I belonged to the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) cadre, and I was to be used by them to throw a bomb at Minister Maithripala. Then they recorded my statement in Sinhala.
As I couldn’t bear the agony and unbearable pain as a result of the severe torture, and also fearing further torture, I was compelled to admit to all they wanted of me according to their version, of which I never even dreamt. They wrote all what they wanted and never read the statement recorded by them, neither in Tamil or Sinhala, and forced me to sign it. Out of fear and the threat of further torture I signed against my will.
At about 10pm on this day, after taking down my statement, the 12 of them came and raped me over and over again. They were drunk and I was completely nude, sleeping all alone in that room.
The next day, November 24, they blindfolded me, tied my hands, and took me in a jeep to my village. The 12 CID personnel who caused maximum damage to me came in the same jeep to my village. Reaching my house they scolded me in unbearable filthy language, and wanted me to show to them where the LTTE cadres were living. When I begged them that I knew absolutely nothing about them they brought me back to the police station.
On November 25 they handed me over to the Kaduruwela police. At this time the Kaduruwela police humiliated me more than I could bear by asking irrelevant questions while I was very badly hurt mentally and physically. No female in this universe could bear such questions and remarks made by them. They continued accusing me of being LTTE and that I was hiding the facts. I was kept in solitary confinement there for one month. I was almost going mad and I even wanted to put an end to my life. But, I thought I must live and explain all these attrocities to the authorities concerned, so that other women in Sri Lanka would not have to bear similar incidents.
Although the Kaduruwela police knew I was innocent, they didn’t want me to expose them so they sent me to the Magistrates Court at Polonaruwa on 14 March 2002, and from there I was taken to the Anuradhapura Prison. Out of the 12 CID personnel who tortured me and raped me, four accompanied me to the prison. On the way they told me not to divulge the incident, and threatened to kill me if I did.
Ms Sathasivam was later transferred to Welikada remand prison. Meanwhile, the police fabricated and submitted three cases against her in the high courts. She did not undergo a proper medical examination until after one was ordered by a high court judge on 30 August 2002, at which time she told the JMO and other medical staff all the details of what had happened to her at the police station.
Ms Sathasivam was subsequently released on bail and on 20 November 2002 made a complaint to the NHRC. Since then, she has experienced continual harassment by the police. On 8 February 2003 she made another complaint to the NHRC about an event the day before, when two men on a motorcycle, one of whom was among the 12 perpetrators, stopped next to her and her mother as they were walking along the road. The officer told Ms Sathasivam to come to the CID office and forced her to accept 20 Rupees for the fare. He told her that if she didn’t come they would come and arrest her. Meanwhile, the charges against Ms Sathasivam are still pending in the high court.
6. Y C Benjamin: Victim of relentless police harassment
Until April 2002, Yoga Clement BENJAMIN, a 47-year-old father of three, sold illicit alcohol. In those days he had reportedly bribed SI Sunil Perera and several other officers at Kaluthara South police station. In addition to this business, he had a pig farm. After that date, although he stopped selling alcohol and took to selling vegetables, the police still collected bribes from him, including getting pork free of charge. After June 2002, when Mr Benjamin refused to supply pork for a wedding, the police became hostile towards him and he decided to sell the piggery. However, he became the subject of police threats and conflicts over the payment of bribes continued.
On 5 February 2003, two police officers from the Kaluthara South came to collect bribes. When Mr Benjamin refused to pay, the two allegedly beat him. At about 7:30pm on the same day, SI Perera arrived with a group of men and threatened Mr Benjamin, calling himdhemalaa (a derogatory term for a Tamil person), and telling him that he would not be allowed to reside there any more. At 10:30pm on the same day, another sub-inspector and about ten police officers in plain clothes arrived at the house in a Fargo van, carrying swords and wooden poles. They broke into the house and abused Mr Benjamin’s wife and daughter in foul language, destroyed furniture, and took away a gold chain with two sovereigns. They also broke the glass on their wedding photo and took the picture with them. When the family went to complain at the police station they were scolded and chased away.
On February 7, the same group arrived at about 2:30am and entering the house from the back door threatened to kill the family. At 9:30am the family complained to the NHRC. At 2:30pm on the same day, a big group of police arrived at the house and destroyed all the furniture. At 5pm, they found Mr Benjamin and an officer in plain clothes started to hit him with a steel pole. His son intervened, resulting in a fight. The family then fled.
On February 9 the family went with Mr Nanda Mapalagama Godagama, attached to the Galle Court, to make a complaint to the IGP. However, on February 19 Mr Benjamin’s son was arrested and falsely charged at the Kaluthara South police station.
On February 22 a neighbour called the officers of Kaluthara South over a land dispute. At about 4:30pm, the police arrived again, in the neighbour’s van, as well as their own vehicles. They confiscated Mr Benjamin’s motorcycle and appeared to leave. The neighbour then called for Mr Benjamin to come out. When he did, some police appeared and shot at him and his son. However, on this occasion he escaped unhurt.
Finally, on February 26 the police shot and killed Mr Benjamin while he was walking on the road. The police claimed to have acted in ‘self defence’, and allege that a pistol was found next to the victim. However, Mr Benjamin had never previously owned or used a gun, and the series of incidents leading up to the killing suggest that it was a calculated murder.
7. S Hemachandra: Death for winning lottery
Sunil Hemachandra, a 32-year-old rubber tapper, won Rs.3,003,100 (US,030) in a lottery on 29 June 2003. A few days later, hearing the news, some police officers visited his house and tried to extort money from him, without success.
According to the family, at about 12:15am on July 24, police from Moragahahena station again came to the house, and arrested Mr Hemachandra without charge. When his family went to the police station the next morning, July 25, they found him lying unconscious in a cell, bleeding from the nose. They claim that according to an eyewitness account, OIC Maheepala, PC Muthubanda and PC Wijemanna savagely beat Mr Hemachandra. He was taken to the Horana Hospital and then transferred to the National Hospital in Colombo. However, he died in hospital on July 26.
According to the Moragahahena police, Mr Hemachandra was arrested along with another person, Chanaka, who was wanted by them. When he objected to the arrest, he was also taken to the police station and locked up, police said. An officer from the station spoke on radio that Mr Hemachandra had an epileptic fit and collapsed while at the station. However, he has no history of any illness. The DIG-Western Province South, K P P Pathirana, meanwhile told journalists that the man had fallen and hit his head because he was drunk.
A complaint regarding the arrest, torture and death was made to the ASP-Horanam, but he failed to take any action. Furthermore, according to newspapers, the ASP was assigned to conduct inquiries into this case, along with the police officers from Moragahahena police station allegedly responsible for the death. The matter has now come before the Department of the Attorney General, and inquiries are reportedly continuing. Meanwhile, the victim’s mother and sister have filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court, which is due to be heard in March 2004.
8. C Bandara Jayaratne: “Tell the truth, otherwise we will kill you”
B G Chamila BANDARA Jayaratne, a 17-year-old high school graduate, was hung from a ceiling and beaten by the police, causing serious injury to his left arm. He describes what happened to him as follows:
At around 4:30-5pm of 20 July 2003, one civilian personnel attached to the Ankumbura police station (Kandy) came to my family’s house. At that time I was the only one at home. He told me to come with him and took me to a waiting police jeep. There a police officer, whose name I later learnt is Sgt Premasiri, took hold of me and gave me several blows, saying, “You have scolded someone who helped us to catch some thieves!” He hit me hard on the face and body about ten times, then handcuffed me.
I was put in the police jeep, and saw one of my cousins, Upali, was also there. There were two uniformed officers in the jeep, and one kept the butt of his gun on Upali’s head. He said, “You tell the truth, otherwise we will kill you.” Another boy was also in the jeep. We were then taken to the Ankumbura police station.
Inside the station, SI Senevirathna held me, bent my head, and hit me very hard on my spine. Then he hit me on my face with his boots and pushed my head against the wall. I was taken to a hall inside the station, and handcuffed to a bedpost. I was verbally abused in crude language and told by the same officer that he would come at midnight and if I didn’t tell the truth, he would teach me a lesson. However, nobody came at that time.
The next morning, at about 9am the OIC of the police station came and told me to tell the truth or I would be assaulted. I was then taken to another place where there was a bed, and the OIC told me to remove my shirt and lie face down on the bed. There were several officers present. One person, who was not wearing a uniform, sat on my back. Someone held tight onto my legs. Then the OIC and another officer hit the soles of my feet. The OIC hit me with a cricket stump and the other officer hit me with a cane. I was told to admit to thievery. I said that I didn’t know anything about any theft. They continued to hit me. Then petrol was put into a polythene bag and poured out, after which the polythene bag was tied onto my face. I was told that if I didn’t tell the truth, I would be burnt. I was hit for about one hour more. I was told to get off the bed and to keep jumping, but because I did not jump high enough, the OIC hit me with a pole. I said that I didn’t know about any thefts. Then the OIC said that, “No one knows you have been arrested”, and called out, “Let’s kill him.” He told the others to hang me from the ceiling beam.
My hands were swung behind my back and my thumbs tied together with a string, then they put a rope between my thumbs and hung me from a ceiling beam. One officer pulled the rope so that I was lifted from the ground. When I was lifted, my hands were twisted at the elbow and they became numb. The OIC kept hitting me on my legs and soles with the cricket stumps. He hit me on my thighs, and asked me who my friends were. Because of the unbearable pain I gave him names and said, “Though I didn’t do any thefts I am willing to admit to anything.” The OIC said, “That won’t do. Till you tell us about all the thefts you have done, one by one, we will keep you hanging-we will tie a stone to your legs.”
After that I admitted to every theft they told me about, one after the other, just to escape this unbearable situation. The police officers then told me that they would take me to a jewelry shop at Ambathenna. I was told to say that I had stolen two rings and a chain. After about half an hour, four police officers put me along with another person in a jeep and took us to my friend Saliya’s house. Saliya was brought to the jeep. He asked me why I did all this but I didn’t say anything. We were all taken to Ambathenna. The police pointed towards a person and told me to say that I had given the stolen items to him. I was again threatened that I would be hung up by one hand. I did as I was told. Although I didn’t know the person at all, that person was also taken to the police station with Saliya and I. I later learned that another friend was also brought to the police station. I was brought before these persons and asked whether they had also engaged in the robberies. Because of fear, I did not dare to answer. They told me that I could be made a state witness if I said that the other two had committed the thefts, but they said I was not to tell anyone that they had tortured me. If a doctor asked me, I was to say that the handcuffs damaged my hands. I was told that if I mentioned anything about the torture there would be trouble in the future. The OIC said that “everything is in our hands” and “don’t get things messed up”.
On July 27, Upali, my friends and I had our fingerprints taken. After that, we were made to sign in the middle of a page among four or five empty pages. At about 6pm we were all taken near the Ankumbura Government Hospital and while we waited in the jeep, officers went in and brought some papers back to us. We were not taken to the doctor. We were later taken to the magistrate’s official house. The police told the magistrate something and then we were taken to the Bogambara prison, where Saliya and Upali were detained. Three others and I were taken to the remand prison at Rajaveediya. When I was admitted to the prison I informed the prison authorities about the injuries I had suffered at the hands of the police and requested treatment. I was given some tablets but no medical examination was done. I was also not kept in the prison hospital. On July 28 my mother was finally able to meet me there. I was released on bail on July 30.
On July 31, I was admitted to the General Hospital in Kandy and was under treatment for six days. The doctors told me that due to the torture the damage to my left arm is likely to be permanent. When I went to the police post of the General Hospital of Kandy to make a complaint about the torture, the request was refused and I was told to make the complaint at the Ankumbura police station. On August 11 I was readmitted to hospital, and told that I will have to have an operation to try to correct the injuries caused by the torture.
Chamila and his family have since been forced into hiding after they made complaints about the case, and filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court. The case also has received enormous publicity in Sri Lanka. A local human rights organisation is protecting Chamila. The alleged perpetrators have meanwhile coerced local criminals into intimidating the family, and police have directly threatened Chamila’s mother.
The family has learned that the OIC and other alleged perpetrators have attempted to fabricate a case against Chamila by forcing some boys to testify that the victim’s injuries were caused by a fall. Several of the boys have already retracted their statements, taken under duress.
Chamila attended the UN Human Rights Committee session held in Geneva at the end of October 2003 as part of a delegation from ALRC and the World Council Against Torture (OMCT). When the Human Rights Committee met the delegation, Chamila narrated his case to the Committee. On the next date of the session, the Committee inquired about Chamila’s allegations with the Sri Lankan government delegation. One of the delegates stated to the Committee that the allegations were completely false. The basis of this statement was a report filed by the Kandy Area Coordinator of the NHRC. This report was compiled without even taking a statement from Chamila or his family, and without referring to the medical certificates. AHRC immediately demanded that the chairperson of the NHRC dismiss the area coordinator without delay. The NHRC then reopened the inquiry and named its Director of Investigations as the inquiring officer. A further inquiry was initiated into the conduct of the Kandy Area Coordinator. Shortly thereafter, several local human rights organisations took exception to the manner in which the reopened inquiry was being conducted. Thereafter an independent inquirer, Dr Irvine Jayasuriya, was appointed to conduct both inquiries, which are still continuing.
OMCT organised for a specialist to examine Chamila while in Geneva. The doctor concluded that the injuries he had sustained were consistent with his allegations of torture. Fortunately, the doctor was able to report that Chamila is likely to be able to make a recovery due to his youth and good health. Had such torture been inflicted on an older person, it is almost certain that the injuries would have been permanent, as suggested by the doctors who did the initial examination.
Chamila Bandara was not the only child being tortured by the police at Ankumbura between 20 and 28 July 2003. Bandula Padma Kumara and Saman Kumara, two brothers aged 14 and 17 respectively experienced similar treatment from the same police. On July 20, Bandula was arrested for allegedly stealing a bunch of bananas. After his arrest, his mother was refused access to him. His brother was arrested at home at about 7pm on July 22. Both boys were kept at the police station until July 28, when they were remanded in custody by a magistrate after police fabricated cases against them through the use of torture. The torture included hanging by the thumbs and being pulled on the legs, and a practice cynically described as dharma chakkra (‘Wheel of Law’; a Buddhist doctrine). In this method, the victim’s arms are tied to the knees so the body forms a circle; a pole is inserted between the arms and body and the person is rotated on this while being beaten on the soles of the feet.
The boys were released on bail on August 15; the case is continuing.
9. Garlin Kankanamge S: Body buried in garden in hope of second post mortem
Garlin Kankanamge Sanjeewa, a 25-year-old soldier, was going home on 27 August 2003 when officers of the Kadawatha police station arrested him on allegations of robbery. The next day he was dead in a cell. The police claimed he had hanged himself with the belt of his trousers. However, Mr Garlin’s mother said that her son’s feet were on the floor of the cell when she saw his hanging body, although the sketch made by police does not show his death this way. She also claims to have seen blood flowing from the lower part of her son’s body, and a wound on one of his arms. The family has insisted that a proper and impartial inquiry be held and a second inquest take place, because they do not accept the post mortem conducted in the police station. On September 1 they buried the body in a private garden out of fear that the police would come to try to take it and destroy the evidence of their actions.
As Mr Garlin was a solider, the military police conducted an inquiry into this case. In their report, a copy of which was issued to his mother, the inquirers cast doubts about the police version of events. Despite this report, the police authorities are not known to have undertaken any further inquiry into the case, after interdicting the two police officers on duty at the time for negligence over the alleged suicide.
Around the same date as Mr Garlin lost his life, 60-year-old R M Loku BANDA had a dispute with two villagers about a road construction. Police from Maturata station intervened and took Mr Banda away. He was later found dead in his cell. Although the reason for his death has not yet been revealed, local human rights groups alleged torture. His son has complained to the authorities, but an investigation has not yet begun. Meanwhile, the family has lodged a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court.
10. R Dhanapalasingham, R Saravanaraj & M Prabhakaran: An accident leads to assault
While Ramaiya DhanapalaSingham, aged 23, Ramaiya Saravanaraj, aged 26, and his brother Muragaiya Prabhakaran, aged 25, were walking from the town of Bogawantalawa towards Chapelton between 5 and 6pm on 7 July 2003, two motorized trishaws came at high speed from the opposite direction. The first one hit Mr Dhanapalasingham, throwing him off the road. Since the vehicle failed to stop after the accident, the men went to make a complaint at the Bagawantalawa police station. But before they arrived at the station, three police in civilian clothing stepped down from a jeep with batons and poles and began assaulting them. The men came to understand that one was the OIC of the Bagawantalawa police.
Following the assault, they were then taken to the police station and beaten again. At about 10pm, a doctor arrived and after a discussion with the OIC, examined Mr Saravanaraj. According to Mr Saravanaraj, the OIC warned him not to tell the doctor that the police had assaulted him, but rather to blame it on the trishaw driver. While being examined, the OIC held a pistol against his brother and threatened to shoot him if he told the doctor what had really happened. According to Mr Saravanaraj, the doctor did not ask him anything anyhow, and did not examine the wounds on his back caused by beatings with a pole, nor the injuries sustained by his brother. The men were subsequently taken for treatment to the hospital, but while there when the men’s parents, the chairperson of the District Council, and a local trade union representative tried to visit them the OIC chased them all away and told them they could come to see things in the court. After they were remanded in custody, a neighbour brought them food for the night but had hot water thrown at him.
On July 8, the OIC forced the men to sign a document, which was later submitted as evidence to the Magistrate Court at Hatton. In the complaint, the police allege that the three men assaulted the trishaw driver. The men’s lawyer pointed out that the three were actually assaulted by the police, and had Mr Saravanraj lift his shirt to show the wounds on his back. However, the magistrate was not interested and instead asked the police why the guns given to them were not used on such occasions. The men were then remanded for a further 14 days. While at Bogambara prison, Mr Dhanapalasingham was kept in the hospital ward for three days for treatment of the wounds he sustained at the hands of the police.
After the men were bailed out, they were admitted to the Nuwaraeliya hospital and remained there for four days, during which time they made a statement to the police officer on duty. However, efforts to make a complaint to the SP-Hatton have been unsuccessful. The ASP also refused to accept their complaint, but when presented with evidence by a representative of a local human rights group he recorded separate statements from each of the three men. The case is continuing, and has also been reported to the NPC and NHRC.
11. Okanda Hevage J: Beaten to death over 284ml of alcohol
On 5 September 2003, Okanda Hevage Jinadasa, a 50-year-old mason and father of five, was returning home by bicycle after work. Two civil personnel attached to the Okkampitiya police post stopped him and searched his belongings. They found two packets of illicit liquor, equalling 284ml. They beat him and brought him to the police post, where they reportedly beat him again with fists and posts, and squeezed his testicles and neck until he died. Police personnel took his dead body to the Okkampitiya government rural hospital, making a pretense that he was unconscious. A doctor examined the body and pronounced that he had died before arrival.
The police have said that Mr Okanda fell from a chair and died. The Monaragala magistrate who held the inquiry on September 7 ordered the body be sent to Karapitiya [Galle] Teaching Hospital for an autopsy. The JMO who did the autopsy reported that he found injuries on the body caused by blunt weapons. He further stated that Mr Okanda’s death was not due to these injuries, and reserved his decision on the cause of death till further investigation was completed. The case is continuing.
12. M Riswan, S Ravichandran & A Latief: Beaten with a brick and broomstick
On 30 August 2003 at about 12:30pm 23-year-old Suppaiya Ravichandran was driving a motorized trishaw carrying 23-year-old Mohamad Ameer Mohamad Riswan and 30-year-old Abdul Karim Mohamad Roshan Latief. They were stopped by a van containing about six plainclothes police officers from Wattala station. The police forced the men into the van, blindfolded them and took them to the police station.
At about 7pm several police officers, particularly SI Navaratne, severely assaulted the men. The assault continued during the next day, and that night they were taken to the office of the DIG-North Colombo at Peliyagoda, which is the police headquarters for the area. There a senior officer assaulted the men on their legs, stomachs, chests and hands, and forced them to confess to involvement in a robbery about which they knew nothing. When the men pleaded innocence the officer assaulted them with a brick, and when he beat Mr Riswan on the ears with the brick, the victim began to bleed from the nose. After the brick broke into pieces an officer from Wattala brought an old broomstick, which the senior officer used until it also broke. All the men suffered severe injuries, especially Mr. Latief, who was continuously assaulted for about 30 minutes. He was also stabbed with the broken end of the broomstick and was bleeding from the chest. Mr Latief was again attacked the following night, and he alleges that he was tortured while hung from a beam.
On September 1, the men were brought back to the Wattala police station, where they were locked up. They were given only some water while in the cell. That evening, their family members came to the police station to meet them, as did three officers of the NHRC, after receiving a complaint from the family. They took written statements and also noted their injuries. They ordered the police to produce the men before a JMO, and the police obliged. After the JMO’s examination, the victims were produced before a magistrate, from whom the police obtained a detention order so as to investigate alleged involvement in the drug trade. However, throughout the torture the police reportedly never questioned the men about such activity. Rather, it was only after the NHRC visit that SI Navaratne told the men that since they complained to the NHRC they would be implicated for possession of narcotic drugs. The men have since been charged with theft, and drug-related offences, which they deny. Mr Latief and Mr Riswan have since filed fundamental rights applications in the Supreme Court.
13. Dawundage P: “It is good that you came, otherwise I would have been killed”
At around 10:30pm on 1 September 2003, about six police officers from the Saliyawewa police post in Puttalam, dressed in civilian clothes, came to the house of 14-year-old DAWUNDAGE Pushpakumara’s sister and threatened to shoot their cousin, Nishantha, if Pushpakumara did not go with them. They grabbed his neck and pushed him into their van, where he saw four bottles of liquor. According to Nishantha, the police officers went to Puspakumara’s house from the house of one Jayathilaka, where they had drunk liquor and threatened to shoot Nishantha if he did not show them Pushpakumara’s house.
Inside the van several police officers assaulted Pushpakumara, telling him to confess to stealing a gold chain. They took him to Saliyawewa police post and threw him into a cell. Then they tied his hands behind him and hung him on a beam, and the OIC and several others assaulted him. Then they put him in a room full of ants with his hands still tied.
When his parents went to police station to see their son, they saw Pushpakumara hanging from a beam with his hands tied behind him with a fiber cord. His mother asked an officer to get access to her son, but a police officer told her that the OIC was not there and to come the next day. Meanwhile about ten to fifteen persons claiming to be the owners of the chain came to the police station and threatened to get the police to harm her son if he did not return the chain. The police officers did not react to any of the threats.
The next morning, Pushpakumara was allowed to speak with his mother and sister, and he showed them his wounded hands, legs, head and chest. He added, “It is good that you came last night, otherwise I would have been killed.” The OIC asked Pushpakumara whether he took the chain and he said no. Then the OIC allowed him to go home with his mother. After Pushpakumara went back home, he complained of headaches, and fainted. The next morning the General Hospital of Puttalam admitted him.
On September 5 the police officers told the mother and sister that Pushpakumara was not a thief and the real culprit had been arrested. The police officer told them to remove Pushpakumara from the hospital and asked the supposed owner of the chain to give one thousand rupees to the mother. Then two police officers and the owner of the chain took the mother and sister to the General Hospital, Puttalam at about 7-8pm. There, the police forced Pushpakumara to leave the hospital, fearing that if there was a medical record of his injuries it could be used against them in court.
Pushpakumara fell very ill at home, and the next day a person told him the thief was going to be released and that he would be re-arrested, so he should go back to the hospital. However, due to police pressure the hospital would not admit him. Attempts to get help from the child welfare office also failed for fear of the police. A human rights organization reached the family and tried to take the child to a hospital outside the area. The National Child Protection Authority was informed of the situation and took Pushpakumara to a hospital in Colombo, where he was treated. Meanwhile, a complaint was filed on his behalf in the Supreme Court.
The family has since come under severe pressure from the police to stop making complaints. Police officers of the Saliyawewa police post, as well as prominent politicians, threatened to burn the family’s house if they pursue the matter. Pushpakumara has been taken under the protection of a local human rights organisation, and his parents have since been forced to flee their home, fearing for their lives.
14. Kurukulasuriya P N: Tortured, then imprisoned for 21 months
Rev Fr Alfred Bernard Costa was killed on the night of 10 May 2001 at his mission house in Thillanduwa, Negombo. On May 13, Negombo Police arrested Kotagalage Gamini, and after gathering information from him arrested Kurukulasuriya Pradeep Niranjan, a 30-year-old worker and father of four.
As soon as Mr Kurukulasuriya entered the Negombo police station, the police asked him whether he knew Kotagalage Gamini, and he told them he had only heard of him. Then he saw Mr Kotagalage there, who told Mr Kurukulasuriya to tell the truth about killing Fr Costa. He shouted at Mr Kotagalage that he did not know anything about this. He realized that the police were falsely and purposefully implicating him and pleaded his innocence.
The policemen began torturing Mr Kurukulasuriya. They mutilated his hands and fingers and then they hung him upside down with his legs tied, while four policemen, supervised by IP Nishanth, hit him with cricket wickets on his back, legs, and soles of his feet.
At about 8pm the police took Mr Kurukulasuriya to the house of Acting Magistrate Godfrey Cooray at Kandana. In the meantime his wife had come to look for him but could not enter the police station; people yelled that she was the wife of a priest’s murderer. She could hear Niranjan begging not to be tortured. Then she went to the ASP’s office and pleaded her husband’s innocence, but the ASP did not respond.
Meanwhile, the police took Mr Kurukulasuriya to Negombo Remand Prison, but did not register him as an inmate. Jailer Somaratne the next day beat him on a table while naked. After that the staff registered his name, and then another jailer named Senadeera tortured him, saying he murdered a priest. Then they took Niranjan to court, where the magistrate recorded his statement. Subsequently the Central Intelligence Bureau took over the investigation and ASP Priyantha Jayakody took him to Police Headquarters in Colombo and again recorded his statement. After that he was returned to remand where he languished until February 2003.
On 21 February 2003, the magistrate released Mr Kurukulasuriya on instructions from the Attorney General, and said there would be no legal action against him. For 21 months Mr Kurukulasuriya stayed in the remand prison and during this time people abused and defamed his family such that his children could not even enroll in school. They were also excommunicated from the church. Now Mr Kurukulasuriya suffers from the after-effects of torture and cannot work outdoors to support his family.
15. Kurupanawa Gamage N: Beaten and framed
Around 7-8pm on 17 August 2003, officers of the Udugama police station arrested Kurupanawa Gamage Nihal near Kondalawatta Bridge, while going to the lake for a bath. Six or seven people wearing civilian clothes came and asked whether he was Nihal or not. Even before he answered, one later identified as SI Wijekoon immediately began to assault him wth a pole, until the pole broke and Mr Kurupanawa was on the ground. Then SI Wijekoon and other officers continued by kicking his legs, face, back and other parts of his body, breaking his nose and causing bleeding from his nose and face. Although Mr Kurupanawa’s brother arrived on the scene and pleaded for the police to stop, they did not do so.
After the police took Mr Kurupanawa to Udugama police station he bled constantly, so three officers took him to Udugama District Hospital. The doctor who examined him advised that he be hospitalized immediately. Mr Kurupanawa was admitted to the hospital and two police officers remained with him. While there, SI Wijekoon and another officer from Udugama station forced him to put his thumb print on a bottle and also forced him to sign some documents. They did not explain what the documents were about, and under any circumstances Mr Kurupanawa was only semi-conscious, and at that time thought he was dying.
The next day two police officers forced Mr Kurupanawa to leave the hospital and go with them to a magistrate. The magistrate ordered him remanded for 14 days, but Mr Kurupanawa did not even know the charges against him. When he was brought to the prison at Galle, he asked the prison officers to be sent back to hospital for medical treatment, however, they ignored his complaints.
On August 21, Mr Kurupanawa’s relatives succeeded in bailing him out. He then went back to the Udugama District Hospital. The doctor who examined him told him that his condition was serious and that he should be hospitalized immediately. He was admitted to the Teaching Hospital at Karapitiya and discharged on August 27, after being advised to get further treatment. According to the medical report given by the JMO K I Premathilaka, Mr Kurupanawa had the following injuries to his head:
1. 3cm horizontal lacerated injury on the left side of the parietal region
3cm from the mid line and 11cm above the left ear
2. Bilateral black eye below the eyes
3. 6cm circular in swelling on the left parietal region
The family has complained to the ASP-Udagama.
16. C P S Anthony & C J Lafaber: Victims of a dispute over two plastic cups
On 5 September 2003, 29-year-old technician Conganige Pradeep Surendra Anthony and 23-year-old hairdresser Christopher Junius Lafaber were helping a friend, Anthony Jurie, manage his stall at a church fete. At about 10pm two drunk officers from the Mutwal police station came to the stall to get two plastic cups. When a dispute broke out over the cups, the police abused and slapped Mr Jurie, and asked him, “Are you selling these cups to the police?” Mr Jurie then went to Mutwal police station with his son, but the officer there refused to record a complaint. After that, he went at about midnight to Police Headquarters in Colombo Fort to lodge a complaint.
Meanwhile, Mr Anthony and Mr Lafaber stayed at the stall. After Mr Jurie had gone SI Sujith Ganganath and three other officers drove up to the stall and arrested the two men without charging them or explaining anything. They took them back to the police station and began to beat them with hands and feet. The two men asked why they were being beaten, but the blows just continued until they couldn’t stand any longer. SI Sujith Ganganatha then hit Pradeep’s nose with the handle of his pistol, causing bleeding from both nostrils, after which he was told to go and wash away the blood. The two men were then put in a cell.
At about 3am the police took Mr Anthony and Mr Lafaber to a DMO in Ragama, who instructed the police to admit Mr Anthony to a hospital. They then took the two men to the Accident Ward of the National Hospital in Colombo. Mr Lafaber was kept in the vehicle, while Mr Anthony was taken inside and X-rayed, but brought back despite advice by doctors that he be kept in the hospital as his nose was fractured. The two men were brought back to the Mutwal police station, and when family members came they were told that the men were not there and chased away.
At about 1pm on September 6 the police took Mr Anthony and Mr Lafaber to a magistrate at Hulftsdorp and fabricated a story about a clash between the two men and some other persons who escaped-hence the men’s wounds. The two men were released on bail, after which they went to complain at Police Headquarters. On September 24 ASP Nanayakkara held an inquiry into the complaint, and took statements from all three of the men involved. The case is continuing.
17. Raman Pillai K N A: Robbery victim tortured
On 6 September 2003, unidentified robbers attacked 42-year-old Raman Pillai Kesam Nayar Ashokan while he was carrying the money from the till of a wine store where he was working as cashier. The robbers put him inside a van and used some chemicals on his face, which made him unconscious.
When he regained his consciousness, Mr Raman found himself inside a police jeep. Around 8:30pm, he was brought to the Katugastota police station and was questioned. He told the police that he was robbed. Around 9:30pm his employer arrived at the police station. After the owner talked to the police for about 10-15 minutes, the police accused Mr Raman of stealing the money and assaulted him while asking questions. Then they put him in a cell, and later took him to a doctor at Katugastota hospital, and then to the DMO. After examining him, the DMO said that a chemical like chloroform had been used on him, and that the police should take him somewhere with better facilities for an examination. However, the police brought Mr Raman back to the station and returned him to a cell.
According to Mr Raman, the police then took him upstairs and removed his clothes. They ordered him to lie down and blindfolded his eyes. Then, they beat him hard with something that felt like a cane or a pole. The police kept asking him whether he took the money, and where he put it. They threatened to push him out from upstairs and kill him. One officer told him to tell the truth while hitting his soles and feet. Then the police forced him to jump up and down. They also told him to carry a police officer and walk stamping his feet heavily on the ground. After that, a police officer hit his nose with a baton. He again forced the victim to lie down and three civil personnel sat heavily on his back, while the police again hit him on the soles.
Later, the police put Mr Raman back in a cell. Then they forced him to sign a statement about which he knew nothing. They took him to a magistrate, who ordered that he be remanded. While in remand, he had difficulties breathing and had severe pain in his back and soles. He was bailed out only on September 16, and received medical treatment at a private clinic on September 17 and 18. However, his condition became worse and he was hospitalized at the Peradeniya General Hospital on September 22. While in hospital, his family received threats from some unknown persons.
18. Dope Pathiranalage L: Hung by the thumbs
On 22 October 2003, police attached to Bentota police station brutally tortured Dope Pathiranalage Lasantha Priyankara, a 33-year-old labourer and father of two. At about 1:30pm that day, he had gone to the police station to inquire why some police had come looking for him. When he asked the OIC why he was wanted, the OIC, SI Silva and two other policemen took him to a back room, without any explanation. At the time, all of them were wearing civilian clothes.
As soon as they entered the room, all of them started to assault Mr Dope. They used a cricket bat, wooden clubs and a rubber hose. While they assaulted him, they kept asking him whether he had broken into a house and stolen some goods. As he denied this, the OIC and others stripped him, tied his thumbs together and hung him up by them. While in that position, all four policemen assaulted him again. He repeatedly stated his innocence-even in that position-and then the police brought him down, untied him, and threatened to kill him. The OIC pressed his trousers and T-shirt to Mr Dope’s face, until he was nearly suffocated. When they failed to get a confession, the police twisted his arms behind his back, tied his thumbs together and hung him up again. They renewed their assault, and SI Silva started to stab Mr Dope’s belly with a broken bottle. They continued this until he fell unconscious.
After that Mr Dope was taken to a rural hospital several kilometers away, bypassing Bentota Government Hospital. He was given a saline injection and brought back to the police station. Then the OIC told him to go back home. Mr Dope told them that he could not even move, and showed them blood still coming from his wounds. Then the police took him to the Bentota Government Hospital. While he was in the police vehicle, the OIC went inside and spoke with the DMO. After some time, the OIC brought some medicine and gave it to him. Then, the police told him to get out of the vehicle and go home. He went back home with great difficulty, after which his family took him for treatment.
19. S P Wijekone: Seven-year-old tortured over shop theft
At about 4:30pm on 29 July 2003, OIC Wijeratne and two other policemen of Polipithigama went to the house of 7-year-old Wijekone Mudiyanselage Sujith Priyantha Wijekone, in a vehicle belonging to the Polpithigama Multi Purpose Cooperative Society, and looked for him. Sujith’s mother was not at home, so the OIC sent someone to bring her to the house. After she arrived, the OIC said that he wanted to take Sujith to the police station because he had broken into a cooperative shop and stolen some goods. His mother protested his innocence, but the OIC told her to bring her son and his sister to the police station before 7am the next day.
As she could not refuse, the mother took her two children to Polpithigama police station the next day. A constable questioned the children until 1pm. Then the OIC took Sujith into his room alone. His mother heard her son scream, but was helpless. The OIC kept Sujith for about one hour. Later Sujith told his mother that the OIC had beaten and threatened him. In the afternoon the police took Sujith and his sister in a police vehicle and searched for a 13-year-old boy called Aruna. After arresting Aruna, the police released Sujith’s sister. At about 7:30pm they put Sujith and Aruna into a cell. When Sujith’s mother protested the treatment of her son, the police turned her away.
On the morning of July 31, Sujith’s mother came to the police station again and saw Aruna’s family there also. OIC Wijeratne told them that he would release the two boys if they would pay for the goods stolen. They refused, and at about 3:30pm went to an attorney. After the attorney intervened, the OIC agreed to bring the two boys before the magistrate at Mahava. At midnight the magistrate released the two boys on bail. At the time of the Urgent Appeal his mother reported that Sujith had not yet recovered from the trauma caused by this torture, and was refusing to go to school.
20. Hikkaduwa Liyanage S: Innocent boy endures week of agony
Hikkaduwa Liyanage Sandun Kumara, aged 16, had to leave school after his father’s death to support his family, and started work at a factory owned by a Mr Piyasena in early August 2003. However, he later left this work and went to Ampara.
On 10 September 2003, Sandun’s aunt was informed that the Rathgama police were looking for him. He came back home and went to the Rathgama police station on the morning of September 12. The police questioned him until 3pm and threatened him to reveal the whereabouts of stolen goods, about which he knew nothing. Then they released him and told him to come back the next day.
At about 1pm on September 13, Sarath and Bandula Silva, family members of Mr Piyasena, came with their brothers to Sandun’s house, to take him to the police station. They told him it was only to record a statement and promised to return him within an hour. However, they took him to Mr Piyasena’s house instead, and called the police station saying that they had caught the thief. After that, at around 3pm they brought him to the Rathgama police station, and handed him over to SI (Crimes) J T Ramyasiri.
Sarath and Bandula Silva, their brothers, and some police officers took Sandun to the backyard of the police station. SI J T Ramyasiri held him by his T-shirt collar and lifted him off the ground, demanding he reveal the whereabouts of the goods that he had stolen. He kicked Sandun’s legs and dropped him onto his back. Then, he trampled him with his shoes, and hung him up on a tree by the waistband of his trousers before dropping him onto the ground.
While the police assaulted Sandun, Bandula Silva spoke to the police inspector. After that, at about 5pm Bandula and Sarath Silva and their brothers took Sandun together with some officers in civilian clothes to Piyasena Mudalali’s house. There they served alcohol, cigarettes and food to the police. While they were drinking, the police officers assured the brothers that they would get the lost items from Sandun. Then, they threatened him that they knew what to do to him if he did not tell them the whereabouts of the stolen goods. All of them returned to the police station at about 6:30pm. The police took the victim to a cell containing beds with iron railings and handcuffed one of his hands to a bed. They gave him some food, but no water.
The next day, September 14, the police took Sandun to another small building further away from the backyard of the police station, where there were beds and a bathroom. The officers ordered him to remove his clothes and applied chilli powder to his genitals while he begged them to stop. After that, they wrapped his head and face with his T-shirt and poured water on it, suffocating him. They held the T-shirt for about one minute and repeated it about four times at two to three minute intervals. After that, they freed his hands and ordered him to face the wall. They then beat his back, buttocks and legs with their hands and wooden sticks. After assaulting him, they put him back in the cell, where he was handcuffed to a bed again.
At about noon, the police officers took Sandun to a cemetery in front of the navy camp at Boosse, near his home, and ordered him to dig a grave. Then, they immersed him in a water pit. Bandula and Sarath Silva and their brothers were present in their white van nearby. Sandun was brought back to the police station at about 1:30pm and was cuffed to the bed again. Several police officers took turns assaulting him with hands and wooden sticks. At about 4pm, the police took him inside the small building again, removed his clothes, repeated the suffocation torture, and assaulted him.
On September 15, the police repeated the torture. He was also dragged along sandy cement floors until his feet were bleeding. That evening, Sgt Silva and another officer took Sandun to the beach behind the police station and ordered him to run. They threatened to shoot him, and then assaulted him with a stick while he was handcuffed. The assaults continued into September 16.
At about 12:30pm on September 17, the victim’s mother was permitted to meet her son for the first time since he was taken into police custody. She noticed how he walked with great difficulty, had a black eye, and his skin below the ankles was swollen and red. His elbows and knees were wounded, and he could sit only on the edge of the chair. After seeing her son’s serious condition, she requested the police to provide him medical attention, which was denied. That evening, Sgt Silva hit Sandun’s head against a wall, and struck his ears with his shoes about five times. He also kicked and trampled his legs.
The police produced Sandun in court on September 19, and then sent him to the Kithulampitiya Remand Home. The officers of the remand home admitted him to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital on September 21, where he was treated and discharged, but readmitted on September 23 because of severe headaches, chest pains and hearing loss.
On September 24, Sandun was produced in the Galle Magistrates Court and released on bail. His family has since filed complaints with the NHRC, NPC and in the Supreme Court, which has ordered the NPC to investigate. However, since making the complaints they have received death threats. The perpetrators are all still serving at the Rathgama station, and the family fears for their security.
21. S L Kulathunga: Public outcry after custodial death
Three officers in civilian clothes, led by Sgt G W Siripala, arrested and beat 29-year-old Samarathunga Liyana Arachchige Kulathunga on 10 November 2003 at the front of his family house in Nivithigala, for ‘indecent behaviour’. Mr Kulatunga was taken to the Nivithigala police station, where he was reportedly assaulted and suffered serious head-injuries. However, PC Sugath claimed he was injured when jumping from the police jeep on the way to a medical test. On November 11 they admitted him to Wathupitiya Base Hospital.
When the local people heard about the assault, it provoked a huge outcry. Thousands of persons gathered around the police station, cut down trees, barricaded the road and burnt tires to express their anger. Around one thousand persons also gathered at the hospital. However, Mr Kulatunga was transferred to the National Hospital in Colombo, where he died of his injuries on November 12.
On November 13 Mr Kulathunga’s father told the Additional City Coroner M Ashroff Rumy that his son had been savagely beaten in front of him. He claims that around 6:30pm on the day of the arrest he heard his son shouting to someone not to kill him at the front of their house. “I saw two policemen beating my son on his head and neck. Thereafter they bent him and hit him on his back,” he reported. “When I attempted to save him a policeman beat me on my shoulder and I ran away in fear.” Around 15 other villagers witnessed the attack, including his brother, however they did not assist Mr Kulathunga out of fear that they would also be assaulted.
Inquiries into the case are reportedly continuing.
22. S J Pallekanda: Accused of car theft
On 6 December 2003, officer Hemantha and other police from the Katugastota police station came to the house of P M Hemapala in Pallewatta, Pitawala, Nawalapitiya and searched for his 22-year-old son Shiron Jeewantha Pallekanda. As he was not at home, they took his photo from the house and told his father to sign a statement, the contents of which they did not explain. Then they told him to bring his son to the station on December 7. He replied that his son could not go because he had been told to report to the Kekirawa police station on Sunday. The officers told him to bring his son in the afternoon.
Mr Pallekanda went to report to the Kekirawa police station at about 11am on December 7, with his father. The police kept him until 7:30pm, on request of the Katugastota police. Around 7:30pm the police from the Katugastota arrested him on suspicion of vehicle theft, and took him back to their station. His father followed them in a lorry, and then went home.
The next day, December 8, when Mr Pallekanda’s brother went to see him around 4pm, he found that his brother had been severely beaten. He came back home and informed his father, who arrived at the station around 7:30am the following morning, December 9. His son told him that he had been severely beaten and vomited as a result, after which he had been taken to a private doctor but not given any proper treatment. The police told the father that they could not produce Mr Pallekanda before a magistrate because their investigation was incomplete. An hour later, he came back to the station with a lawyer, and the police promised the lawyer that they would produce the victim in court on December 10. The father came to visit again around noon, and an officer told him that his son had been taken into a room to record a statement. Then the father heard his son cry out. After Mr Pallekanda came out he told his father that the police were beating him in the room. When the father complained, the officers threatened him that they would remand his son if he came to the police station again. At the time of the Urgent Appeal being issued, Mr Pallekanda was still in custody.
23. Bamunuarachchi Pathiranalage S: Hung from the ceiling
At 10:30am on 1 November 2003, two police officers in civilian clothes from the Kuliyapitiya police station arrested Bamunuarachchi Pathiranalage Sathkumara at his friend’s house. The police did not give any reason for his arrest. On the way to the police station, they collected a woman whom Mr Bamunuarachchi recognised as living nearby his friend’s house.
At the police station, the officers took Mr Bamunuarachchi into a room and ordered him to remove his shirt, belt, and wristwatch. Then they started to beat him severely with a wooden pole. They asked whether he had broken into a house and stolen some goods, of which he knew nothing. Later he found out that a burglary had occurred at the woman’s house.
The police ordered Mr Bamunuarachchi to lie on the floor and beat the soles of his feet hard for ten minutes. After that, they put his hands behind his back and hung him from a ceiling beam by a nylon rope. Officer Pushpakumara and another policeman then swung him for 45 minutes, causing extreme pain to his shoulders and arms. After he was removed from the beam, the police officers ordered Mr Bamunuarachchi to jump up and down and run outside, also causing him great pain after the torture.
After that, a policewoman took Mr Bamunuarachchi’s money and bought some medicine for him. He was released at 6:45pm, at which time they warned him not to go for hospital treatment, lest records of his injuries be produced. Nonetheless, his brother took him to the Kuliyapitiya Hospital and he was kept there until November 4. While there, the police officer on duty at the hospital took a statement from him about the torture. A JMO also examined him and took a report. His brother has also made a complaint to the DIG-Kurunegala, who asked him to report the case to the regional ASP, and promised to take action within 10 days. However, at the time of writing the Urgent Appeal no serious steps had been taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.
24. Nishantha Kumara: Fifteen-year-old beaten for failure to locate illicit alcohol seller
At 11:30am on 3 December 2003, four officers from the Department of Excise came to 15-year-old Nishantha Kumara’s house in a cab. One officer called Nalaka was in uniform, and the others were in civilian clothes. At that time Nishantha was at home for lunch after working in the paddy fields. The officers immediately handcuffed him and asked him whether he knew a person called Chutte, an illicit alcohol seller. The officers accompanied Nishantha to search for Chutte, however they could not find him. Then the officers took Nishantha to a near by forest, and on the way there, the officers beat him. They then put his hand on a stone and pounded it.
After that Nishantha was brought back to his house, by which time his father was there. The officers then took both of them to the forest, and Nishantha’s father was forced to take a barrel to the place where the cab was parked. Then the officers forced Nishantha and his father to sign some forms, about which they knew nothing. Nishantha’s aunt, who came to see him at that time, also had to put her signature on the forms. After that, the officers threatened to charge Nishantha with possession of illicit alcohol if somebody did not come to certify the forms. The officers also threatened to take Nishantha’s aunt if they were unable to appear before the court.
Nishantha was admitted to the government hospital of Pimbura on the same day. He was discharged after three days, although his hand had not yet healed. He has lodged a complaint with the police, however, they have not taken any serious steps to investigate this case.
25. Ashoka P Kumara, Saman Puspakumara, N Ratnayaka, W P Piyadasa, Nilantha K Rajapakse, Chaminda Sureshkumar, U N Jayantha Premalal & S Niyamaka: Victims of New Year’s revelry
On 31 December 2003 four policemen in civilian clothes from the Gokarella police station came to Baddegama village in Madahapola and sought information about illicit liquor. They approached 20-year-old Ashoka Pradeep Kumara and 17-year-old Saman Puspakumara and asked, “Where do you get illicit liquor?” When the men said that they don’t get it, the policemen severely assaulted them and took them to their vehicle, later abandoning them. The two were hospitalised in the rural hospital at Polgolla, but the following day, 1 January 2004, they were forcibly dismissed. Saman was admitted to Kandy Hospital on January 6. According to the doctor’s examination, his lower abdomen was damaged and he was complaining of dizziness due to blows on the head. The doctor recorded his statement describing torture by the police.
In the meantime, at about 5pm on December 31, Saman’s mother went to the Gokarella police station to lodge a complaint. When she met OIC Janaka Manapperuma, he said that he was not aware of the incident. At that moment, there were over 200 people at the police station having a New Year party. Most were policemen, retired policemen and their friends. Most were also drunk. Among them was IP Weeraratne, who is a suspect in a pending murder case who has nonetheless stayed on in the police service. Under his leadership, most of the people at the party went to the village.
Arriving at the village, this group of some 200 policemen and their supporters mercilessly assaulted the villagers with poles and cycle chains. They went inside the only shop and destroyed its contents. The villagers could not resist because the policemen were armed with rifles. The OIC came later with the torture victim’s mother and saw what was happening, but could not stop the assault. Five persons were seriously injured during the attack: R M Newton Ratnayaka, a 29-year-old amputee, was pushed to the ground and trampled; U N Jayantha Premalal was also beaten on the stomach and shoulders; Nilantha Kumara Rajapakse was seriously injured in the right ear; W P Piyadasa, aged 70, was dragged along the ground, causing serious injuries to his knees, hands and face; and Chaminda Sureshkumar was also wounded.
The police arrested Premalal, Rajapakse, and one S A Somaratne, and charged them with obstructing police actions against illicit brewing. However, the people in the village had in fact been conducting an anti-drug and anti-alcohol campaign, and had themselves organised many activities to prevent thefts and other social problems in the village.
After arresting the three men, the police took them to a private medical centre at Ibbagamuwa. The doctor who examined them told the police that Premalal and Kumar should be admitted to hospital. However IP Weeraratne took all three to the Gokarella police station and locked up Somaratne before taking the other two to the rural hospital at Polgolla, in Ibbagamuwa. The next day the police produced Somaratne before a magistrate and remanded him at Kegalle Prison. However, the doctor at Polgolla did not want to admit the two injured men as their conditions were serious and the hospital not equipped for such cases. She gave the hospital ambulance and requested the police go to the Teaching Hospital in Kurunegala. The men were taken under guard and admitted. On January 1, Premalal was operated on, but Rajapakse did not receive proper treatment. On January 2, the Kurunegala magistrate came to the hospital and ordered the men remanded at the Prison Hospital in Kegalle. On January 8 all three appeared at the Kurunegal Magistrates Court and were granted bail. The next hearing will be held on 25 March 2004. After being released, Premalal re-entered the Teaching Hospital at Kurunegala. Rajapakse went to Colombo to have his ear examined.
Meanwhile, after the arrests 25 villagers and the abbot of the Buddhist temple had gone to the police station to ask for the men to be released. The police allowed only three people and the monk to go inside, and only the monk could speak to the OIC. The OIC told the monk that if he had any complaints, he should refer the matter to the ASP, who had just arrived for the New Year party. However, the ASP said that he had come for a celebration, not to entertain complaints, and promised he would come to the village with two typewriters at 11am the following day to inquire into the incident. Unfortunately, he did not keep his commitment. The villagers went to the police station again to lodge their complaint, but the police did not take any action.
After this the villagers selected five representatives to report the incident to the NPC and NHRC in Colombo, and officials from NHRC came to investigate. However, because of this visit and media attention, the police at the Gokarella station have come to the village and threatened the people to withdraw their complaints. They also stopped the bus service to the village. The villagers have also reported the incident to the DIG of North Western Province, and he appointed ASP Charles Wijewardene for further inquiries.
26. D G Premathilaka: “It’s you we’re searching for!”
Around 8:30pm on 8 January 2004, D G Premathilaka and his wife went to buy some biscuits for their little daughter from the local shop. On the way, someone shouted, “It’s you we’re searching for!” and suddenly some people started to assault him. He was hit hard on the head and face, then pulled into a van and driven away, while his wife was by the roadside.
The next morning, January 9, his wife received a call that her husband was at the Katugastota police station. She sent her brother there to get the facts. Upon arrival, he saw Mr Premathilaka collapsed on the floor in the remand cell. After signing a paper, he could bring his brother home. According to Premathilaka, some of the police had severely assaulted him at the station.
That afternoon, the family admitted Premathilaka to the Kandy Public Hospital. However, about 1:30pm the next day, January 10, the hospital forcibly discharged him, saying he had no serious injuries, even though he complained of a severe headache and inability to move his neck. There were also some wounds on his legs and arms. After being discharged, he was admitted to the Peradeniya Hospital.
Speaking to a local human rights group, Premathilaka explained that he had previously been involved in illegal liquor sales, but had left the business. After he gave it up, the police, angered by him no longer paying the bribes necessary to conduct such business, fabricated charges against him. According to Premathilaka, they were further angered when he pleaded innocence in court, and the attack seems to have been punishment.
27. Tennakoon Mudiyanselage G: Beaten over a missing bicycle
On the evening of 31 December 2003, Tennakoon Mudiyanselage Gunesekera, a 39-year-old waiter and father of three was sleeping in front of the Chandrasena Hotel after work. Around 10:30pm six drunk policemen attached to the Mahiyanganaya police station came to look for a policeman’s bicycle parked near the hotel. When they could not find it, they woke up Mr Tennakoon and questioned him. When he could not answer, they surrounded him and severely assaulted him with wooden bats. When he fell to the ground, they trampled him.
The following evening, 1 January 2004, Mr Tennakoon’s wife found her husband lying on the ground in the marketplace. She later went to Mahiyanganaya police station to lodge a complaint, but the police tried to hush up the case by offering her 500 Rupees, and refused to record her complaint.
Mr Tennakoon was hospitalized in Mahiyaganaya and his statement taken by the police officer on duty at the hospital, at the request of the DMO. He ribs have been damaged due to the attack, and he finds it difficult to breathe and lie down. A local human rights organisation has helped his wife send letters to the NPC, NHRC and DIG-Uva.
28. Jayasekara Vithanage S: “I will make sure that you will no longer have a normal sex life”
On 7 December 2003 Jayasekara Vithanage Saman Priyankara, a 32-year-old poultry farm owner and father of two, went to Matale police station after being called by the officer assigned to his village. The officer told him that there was a complaint against him by some local authorities regarding the dredging of sand for his new house. However, the concerned personnel did not come to the station, and eventually the officer asked him some questions and told him he was doing nothing illegal. He then had Mr Jayasekara buy a bottle of glue and two pens, and give 500 Rupees, after which he prepared a document and gave it to Mr Jayasekara to sign, while assuring him it would end the matter. Although Mr Jayasekara did not understand the document, he signed it out of fear and with the assurance that he could continue to dredge the amount of sand he needed. Then the officer told him that he would come to the village on December 13, at which time Mr Jayasekara could dredge the sand.
Mr Jayasekara went home, and on December 13 dredged some sand as he was assured he could, and noticed the police officer in the village. However, the officer then approached him and told him to stop dredging at once, to which Mr Jayasekara replied that the officer had told him he could do so. After that, the officer began hanging about at the front of his house, and out of nervousness Mr Jayasekara called the ASP-Matale to inform him that he was being intimidated. The ASP asked him to come to the office to complain. When, at around 5pm, a group of officers from Matale police station arrived at the house by jeep, Mr Jayasekara’s wife told them that her husband had gone to the ASP’s office to lodge a complaint. One officer asked about the details of the complaint, and she explained. The officer then spoke to the police station using the house telephone, and stated that the problem was only about sand dredging, and not about a theft. After that the police left.
At about 4:30pm on 5 January 2004, SI Panagoda, a sergeant, and three other officers in civilian clothing from the Matale police station arrived at Mr Jayasekara’s home. They entered the house and told Mr Jayasekara that they needed to take him to the police station. When he asked why, he was given no reason and nor was he charged. Instead, SI Panagoda hit him on his cheek and back, handcuffed him and told him to get into the jeep.
When they arrived at Matale police station, the police took Mr Jayasekara still handcuffed into SI Panagoda’s room. There, SI Panagoda told the officer assigned to Mr Jayasekara’s village to plug in an electric kettle. After some time the officer came back with a large jug of boiling water and a small cup. SI Panagoda approached Mr Jayasekara and told him that they would take revenge on him for arguing with their colleague, and while ordering him to tell the truth began pouring the boiling water very slowly down his right leg. Doing this, the officer pouring the boiling water told Mr Jayasekara that he would see to it that he would not have a normal sex life in the future. The water in the jug took about 10 minutes to finish, during which time Mr Jayasekara begged the officers not to go on with the torture. After that the officer assigned to his village removed the handcuffs and put him in a cell, where he removed his sarong and checked the burns. Then Mr Jayasekara saw that the whole of his thigh was covered with blisters. The policeman then gave him a bottle of medicinal oil and told him to apply it to the wound. After that, Mr Jayasekara was left in the cell for the whole night, during which time he was given no food, water or other medication.
At around 12:30pm the next day, January 6, Mr Jayasekara was taken from the cell and told to leave the police station by the rear door. There, SI Panagoda warned him not to report the incident or seek medical help for the wound, or he would be killed. He also said that the police would keep a watch on him, and visit his home often to check. Mr Jayasekara went home, and out of fear complied with the police instructions. The officers also followed through with the warning, visiting his home several times in uniform, and a number of other times in civilian clothes.
Finally, at around 12:30pm on January 20, SI Panagoda himself and another officer came looking for Mr Jayasekara at a time that his mother was conducting an alms giving. Mr Jayasekara hid in the house, and SI Panagoda called out that but for the alms-giving event, he would not have spared Mr Jayasekara that day. After that, Mr Jayasekara made a written complaint to the ASP’s office, and approached a photographer to document his wounds. On January 21 he went into Kandy General Hospital, where he was treated and examined by a JMO. On January 22 he complained to the Kandy Police Station while on his way home, and on January 30 the ASP called him to his office in Matale on January 31 to take a statement. The NPC Officer in Kandy has also investigated the case, and according to its chairman has “initiated necessary action” against three police officers. Mr Jayasekara filed a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court on February 2.
29. Koralaliyanage P: “This is where your heart is and I am hitting so that you will die in two months”
Koralaliyanage Palitha Tissa Kumara is a prominent artisan and 31-year-old father of two engaged in restoring two houses in Galle Fort in their original 17th century style. He took leave from this work on 2 February 2004 and returned to his house at Halwala, Matugama that night.
About 8.30am the next day, February 3, a police jeep and Pajero arrived at Mr Koralaliyanage’s house. There were four officers in the jeep and six officers in the Pajero. SI Silva got out of the Pajero and called for Mr Kumara. He told him to come to the Welipenna police station and help to make the police emblem for Independence Day celebrations on February 4. Mr Koralaliyanage put on his shirt and came out as instructed. But when he reached the Pajero, SI Silva took his pistol and hit him on the chin three times, drawing blood. Then he booted Mr Koralaliyanage’s back and told him to get in. Mr Koralaliyanage was pushed underneath a seat, and the car proceeded. The two vehicles went to the house of Galathara Don Shantha at Galathra junction. Mr Galathara was also brought out of his house, and put in the jeep. Several other young people were picked up on the way back to Welipenna police station.
After arriving at the police station, the police took Mr Koralaliyanage to SI Silva’s room, and he was told to sit on the floor. The other persons were taken to the cells. A little later, Mr Galathara was brought in and made to sit opposite Mr Koralaliyanage. Then SI Silva took a cricket post and started hitting Mr Koralaliyanage repeatedly, between the shoulders. While hitting him, he told Mr Galathara, “Look-this is how the others will also be treated.” He pulled up Mr Koralaliyanage and kept hitting him hard all over his body. Then he told Mr Koralaliyanage, “Give the bombs, give the weapons, and tell about the robberies you have committed.” Mr Koralaliyanage said he knew nothing about weapons or bombs, and begged the officer to stop hitting him. However, the beating went on for possibly two hours, and in that time Mr Koralaliyanage recalls being hit about 80 times, on all parts of his body, soaking his clothes with blood. The blows were at times so forceful and wild that the officer also hit and smashed an electric bulb on the ceiling. Throughout this time, Mr Galathara was watching in terror. Mr Koralaliyanage noticed that he had involuntarily urinated on seeing the manner in which Mr Koralaliyanage was beaten up. After this, other officers became concerned at the relentless beating and savagery of the attack. Another came in and said to SI Silva, “Are you trying to kill this man? Stop this hitting.” However, he did not stop. Then the officer left and came back with about eight other officers, and one of them pulled the cricket post out of SI Silva’s hands.
At this stage SI Silva left and came back with a person named Sarath who according to him had tuberculosis. The officer forced Mr Koralaliyanage to open his mouth and had Sarath spit into it, telling Mr Koralaliyanage that he would also get tuberculosis and die. Mr Koralaliyanage pleaded not to do this, saying that he would catch the disease and spread it to his wife and children, but to not avail. On seeing this, the officer who had already intervened brought a bottle of water and told the petitioner to wash his mouth. At this stage Mr Koralaliyanage began to lose consciousness. After a while, he found himself in a cell. There, at a later time the same officer brought a mattress for him to sleep on, but about 30 minutes after SI Silva showed up took it away.
Mr Koralaliyanage was first kept in the cell for about three days. In that time he often vomited, and could not eat or drink. He could not even urinate in the corner hole, despite attempts by Mr Galathara, who was locked in the same cell, to help him. Each time he tried to stand up, severe pain in his right ear caused dizziness and disorientation. On the third day SI Silva came and told Mr Koralaliyanage to get up, raise his arms and bend down. Mr Koralaliyanage found it very difficult, and so the officer punched him in the chest about 13 times, and once in the face. While punching him he said, pointing, “This is where your heart is and I am hitting so that you will die in two months.” On another occasion SI Silva came and handcuffed Mr Koralaliyanage to a bar of the cell door, and then pulled the door up and down, injuring his wrist.
During these three days, Mr Koralaliyanage’s wife was able to visit him on February 4 and 5, and give some medicine to treat his wounds. The officer who had earlier intervened in his case also brought surgical spirit. Also, on February 5 40-50 persons were brought to the police station at various times and shown the detainees. Two cameramen in civilian clothes also came and took separate photographs of the detainees.
On February 5, the third day of detention, some other officers took Mr Koralaliyanage to Itthapana District Hospital. The doctor who examined him refused to admit him because his injuries were too serious. The police brought him back to the station and then again took him to the hospital, to be examined by another doctor, who also said he could not be admitted there. After that the police took Mr Koralaliyanage to the Wetthewa Government Hospital, where he was likewise refused admission. But while there, a lawyer came and met him and talked to the police officers, after which he followed them back to the station. The lawyer demanded the police bring Mr Koralaliyanage before a magistrate, and waited for some time at the station. However, eventually he came to the cell and told Mr Koralaliyanage that it did not seem that the police would bring him before a magistrate and because of other commitments he had to leave.
That night SI Silva came back to the cell and took a grenade out of its packing. Then he pulled Mr Koralaliyanage’s hand through the bars and took his thumbprint with warm ceiling wax, which he in turn he planted on the grenade. He took down Mr Koralaliyanage’s personal details and came back with a statement that he forced him to sign, without explaining anything of the contents. He also fingerprinted Mr Koralaliyanage.
In the morning of February 6 Mr Koralaliyanage was again taken to Wetthawa Government Hospital, but he received no treatment and was kept handcuffed while the police went to get a signature on some documents from one person there. Then the officers brought him back to the police station. At about 5.30pm he was taken to an office in the Magistrates Court of Matugama, where he was produced with several others before an acting magistrate. Mr Koralaliyanage told the acting magistrate that he was severely assaulted and that his thumbprint had been planted on a grenade, and asked for medical treatment. A lawyer appearing on his behalf requested that he be examined by a JMO, which the acting magistrate duly recorded. After the hearing, Mr Koralaliyanage was taken to Kalutara Remand Prison and admitted to the prison hospital. On February 10 he was again brought before a magistrate, and on February 12 he was taken to a JMO at the General Hospital of Colombo. Several doctors examined and noted his injuries, took X-rays and photographs. The JMO has instructed that he be brought for further examinations.
Two cases have been filed against Mr Koralaliyanage, for possession of a grenade and for robbery. At the time of this report, he is in Kalutara Remand Prison. Meanwhile, he has lodged a fundamental rights application in the Supreme Court.
30. D G Athula Saman Kumara: Taken from the marketplace
On 16 February 2004, a group of police officers came to the wholesale market at Katugastota, in Kandy, where D G Athula Saman Kumara was carrying out his business, and took him to the Katugastota police station. His wife went to see him in the evening of the same day and found that her husband was severely wounded by torture conducted by the police officers. Kumara told his wife that the police did not give any reason for his arrest, or make any record. Later that night his wife went to see him again and saw her husband suffering in great pain caused by the torture. At the time of this report, Kumara was still in detention and his full circumstances unknown. His wife has lodged complaints with the NHRC and NPC in Colombo and sought urgent intervention to get medical treatment for her husband.
31. Bellanavithanage S Y: Shot dead because of a family quarrel
On 22 February 2004, four officers of Baduraliya police station led by SI Dammika went to investigate a complaint of a family quarrel at the house of Ayasha Damayanthi, the sister of 22-year-old Bellanavithanage Sanath Yasaratne. Finding no one at the house, they were returning to the station when they saw Mr Bellanavithanage at a shop. Recognising him, PC Suriyaarachchi approached him to question him about the complaint. While investigating him, PC Suriyaarachchi reportedly started to beat Mr Bellanavithanage hard with his truncheon. The victim tried to escape the blows by running away. Another officer fired two shots and Mr Yasaratne fell in the street. According to the many eyewitnesses, the police abandoned Mr Bellanavithanage and did nothing to help him. Later, his brother and several other people took him to the Wattaewa Hospital. However, he died while being transferred to the General Hospital in Colombo.
A postmortem inquiry by the JMO at Nagoda Hospital has confirmed that the death was caused by gunshot. A magisterial inquiry has not yet been held. The victim’s family wants an inquiry, however they fear that the perpetrators will attempt to make up a false story to avoid liability for the death.