Court releases tortured Batticaloa youth

[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 July 2000, 08:53 GMT]
The Batticaloa High Court Wednesday released two Tamil youth who had been tortured by the Sri Lankan security forces while in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The state counsel said that the Attorney General is withdrawing the cases against them and another youth as Senior Superintendent of Police, Bandula Kumara, the chief witness had died. The two youths had been hung by their toes and beaten with pipes, choked in bags filled with petrol and chilli fumes pulled over the head and by immersion in water according to medical reports submitted to the courts by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) of Batticaloa and the Assistant Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo. The ear drums of one of the youth had burst and bled heavily due to the torture according to the medical reports.

The additional district judge for Batticaloa directed the Batticaloa JMO Dr.S.Chandrapalan on 18 June 1999 to examine Thambiaiyah Suntheralingam 23, who had been arrested by the army in Navatkudah, a suburb in the southern outskirts of Batticaloa town, on 17 April 1999 following a motion filed by Perinpam Premnath, the attorney who appeared for the three youth.

The Batticaloa JMO who examined Suntharalingam on 12 July 1999 said in his report submitted to the court on 2 August that the youth had been beaten up severely and hung upside down and that his head had been covered with a plastic bag containing petrol and chilli powder during his detention in the military intelligence camp located in the former tooth powder factory building at Lake Road 2 in Batticaloa town. The DMO also stated in his report that the youth's head had been banged repeatedly on a wall for ten days while he was held at the camp of the Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) of the Sri Lankan Police at Pioneer road in Batticaloa town and that as a result his eardrums had burst and bled severely.

Sithamparapillai Kanakanayakam, 27, of Kokkaddicholai, 16 kilometers southwest of Batticaloa, was arrested by the army on 13 July 1999 while he was visiting relatives in Kallady, a suburb of Batticaloa town. He was detained at the military intelligence camp at Lake Road 2 and later at the CSU camp in Batticaloa. He was then held at the Batticaloa and Kalutara prisons.

The Assistant JMO for Colombo Dr.S.Sivasubramaniam who examined Kanakanayakam on 15 December 1999 states in his report to the court that the youth had been beaten up severely with wires and plastic pipes and his head had been covered with a plastic bag containing petrol fumes and chilli powder and that his head had also been repeatedly thrust into water and held until he choked, during his detention in the camps of the military intelligence and CSU in Batticaloa.

The attorney general's department filed a case against Suntharalingam on 13 December 1999 and against Kanakanayakam on 30 December 1999 in the Batticaloa high court. The latter was accused of being trained by the Liberation Tigers between 1 January and 31 December, 1997 and the former of being trained in Jaffna by the LTTE between 1 January and December 31, 1994. A case was also filed in the Batticaloa high court on 3 December 1999 against Nicholas Francis of Kaluwankerni, 20 kilometers north of Batticaloa, who was arrested in his village by the army on 24 July 1999. Francis was also accused of receiving arms training from the LTTE in 1988.

The main production in the three cases was the confessions obtained from the suspects. The witnesses were SSP Bandula Kumara who recorded the confessions, the Police typist who typed them and the Police sergeant who was present when the confessions were recorded. Persons can be sentenced under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on the basis of the confession obtained from them and the evidence of the Police officer who recorded it.

None of the witnesses had turned up on the trial dates and later the Police informed the courts that the chief witness in the three cases SSP Bandula Kumara had died.

State counsel S.Kannan told the court that the AG is withdrawing the cases as the chief witness was dead.


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