Amnesty concern for prisoner's safety

[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 August 1998, 01:15 GMT]
Amnesty International, the human rights watchdog has expressed concern for the safety of former Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Lance Corporal Somaratne Rajapakse, the soldier who revealed the existence of mass graves in Jaffna.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, Amnesty said that "There are fears for the safety of Somaratne Rajapakse who is in Welikade prison hospital following an attack on him by prison guards on 23 August

1998"

Amnesty said that one of the attackers subsequently visited him in the hospital and allegedly threatened him not to talk about the incident "or you won't be able to leave the prison alive".

Amnesty said that "the attack on Somaratne Rajapakse appears to have resulted from his refusal to sign a written statement offered to him by the guards, reportedly on the order of "the Minister", to the effect that he had been emotionally disturbed at the time he made the statement to the High Court about the mass graves and that it had been untrue."

Somaratne Rajapakse subsequently attempted to swallow the paper he was being asked to sign, in order to preserve it as evidence, but the guards violently extracted it from his mouth, contributing to some of his present injuries, said Amnesty.

Somaratne Rajapakse revealed the existence of mass graves in Jaffna, during his and several other soldiers' trials for the multiple rape and murder of Jaffna schoolgirl Krishanthi Kumarasamy and the murder of her mother, brother and neighbour.

Amnesty says that "There is growing concern about security in Sri Lankas prisons, which fall under the authority of the Ministry of Justice.", citing the case of Tamil prisoners murdered in Welikade last December and a recent attack on a Sri Lankan MP.


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