Tamil, Sinhala detainees clash in Vavuniyaa remand prison

[TamilNet, Thursday, 30 December 2010, 02:15 GMT]
Two were injured in a clash that erupted between detainees in the Vavuniyaa remand prison Tuesday around 5:30 p.m. when Tamil detainees assaulted a Mannaar-based Christian priest and a long-time humanitarian worker, who was recently held in remand over alleged charges that he had sexually abused Tamil girls displaced due to the Vanni war. Altercation ensued as a group of Sinhala detainees rushed in defense of the priest and started assaulting their Tamil detainees with pointed weapons and blades. The alleged sexual abuse of under-aged girls are said to have taken in a Home for Destitutes run by the priest at Murungkan in Mannaar district, legal sources in Mannaar said.

On receipt of information from the prison police as the situation inside the prison was out of control, a riot squad of the Vavuniyaa police rushed and brought the situation under control, police said.

The Sinhalese prisoners participated in the clash are in remand over several criminal charges including possession of narcotics and abduction.

The injured detainees were admitted to the Vavuniyaa general hospital on Tuesday night and some Tamil detainees after the clash had been transferred to the Anuradhapura prison.

Tamil detainees have started a fast demanding the return of their fellow detainees from Anuradhapura prison.

Meanwhile, riot police squad has been guarding the Vavuniyaa prison day and night fearing further clashes between the two groups of prisoners.

The suspect Christian priest had been running the Home for the Destitute Women due to the war since October.

The suspect priest, who has had good reputation in humanitarian work in the past, went in hiding following the complaint that he had sexually abused two girls sheltered in the home.

Sri Lankan police filed case in the Mannaar Magistrate court charging the priest for the alleged offence. The Mannaar court ordered the closure of the home for the destitute girls and to transfer other inmates about 20 girls to another safe location.

The court further ordered that the two abused girls should be subjected to medical examination.

The court also ordered the arrest of the priest at sight. Later, police received information that the priest had fled to India.

On December 24 the priest was arrested at the Katunayake International Airport (KIA) on his return from India. He was first produced in Negombo Court.

A prominent Attorney-at-Law from Colombo and two Attorney-at-Laws from Mannaar appeared on behalf of the suspect priest when he was produced in Mannaar court on December 27.

Mannaar Magistrate Ms K.Jeevaranee ordered that the suspect priest be remanded till January 4 next year till the court receives medical examination report on the two girls.

The Magistrate further refused permission to the application of the police that the suspect be handed over to them for further investigation. The Magistrate directed the police that they could interrogate the suspect while in the court house. Police thereafter subjected the suspect for further interrogation in the court house.

The priest-suspect was then taken to Vavuniyaa prison. The assault on the suspect followed thereafter that ended in a clash between two factions of the prisoners divided on ethnic basis.

 

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