Police seek further imprisonment of Sivamani, Wijikala

[TamilNet, Monday, 09 April 2001, 13:33 GMT]
The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Mannar Police Monday moved in the Mannar district court that Sivamani Weerakon and Nanthakumar Wijikala, the young women who were allegedly raped and brutally tortured in Police custody, be further remanded for fourteen days on grounds that they had confessed to offences under draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act and that they are suicide bombers sent by the LTTE to assassinate important persons. The SIU also stated that it was necessary to keep the women in custody because investigations about them are not yet over. Objecting to the SIU's application, Mr. K.S Ratnavale, the attorney who appeared for the accused, told the court, "this a funny application coming from the prosecution because the B report filed in court by the SIU moving for further remand has been signed by OIC Suraweera who has been accused of committing sexual offences against the two women. He should be the one behind bars".

The B report is a confidential report filed by the Police in court informing the magistrate as to why a person has been arrested and produced before him.

mannar_protest_2_070401.jpgHuman rights lawyers say that normally the majority of judicial officers in the north and east and in the island's capital neither question persons produced by the Police before them nor make their observations on the B reports in their journal entries. Some instances in which magistrates had accepted the B report given them by the Police for detaining or extending the detention of suspects arrested under the PTA and the ER without even seeing them (the suspects) have recently come to light, a human rights lawyer in Colombo said.

"It is mainly due to this attitude of judicial officers that gross violations of the law in the arrest and detention of Tamils under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency Regulations are allowed to pass by default" observed a senior lawyer.

The SIU told the Mannar court that the women have to be remanded further because their fingerprints have to be taken and sent to Colombo to ascertain whether they had had any previous convictions.

Mr. Ratnavale said further in his submission "the application has not been made in the proper manner for the reason that any application made under the PTA for remand has to be made by an officer not below the rank of SSP in terms of section 7 (1) of the PTA. The same requirement is applicable to the any application under the ER as well. Therefore the application is 'ab initio' (from the start) irregular. The prosecution alleges that the confessions of the three suspects (Sivamani, Wijikala and her husband Nathakumar) have been obtained. We know very well how confessions are obtained by the Police in our country. No tangible evidence was discovered from the suspects either in the form of hand bombs, grenades, dangerous weapons or cyanide pills".

mannar_protest_1_070401.jpg"There is no evidence to implicate the suspects in any terrorist act or with any terrorist organisation. Specially, in this case the very allegation is that they had been tortured, sexually molested and raped. Any confession obtained in such manner has to be declared inadmissible. Any confession under the PTA has to be obtained by an officer not less than the rank of an Assistant Superintend of Police. In this case the confessions have been obtained by IP. Any such purported confession ceases to be such for reasons that it was not given before the person of the ASP. The suspects have undergone physical as well as mental torture and they should not be remanded any more and their families are very much concerned", the attorney told the court.

Mr. Ratvale then moved for bail for the Sivamani, Wijikala and her husband Nanthakumar.

The Judge accepted the arguments of the defence and also observed that the three had come to Mannar with valid passes from Vavuniya.

"There is no evidence to implicate the suspect in any offence except the so called confessions. I am unable to accept the Police version that it is a confession", Mannar district judge M.H.M Ajmeer said

The two women were released on bail with surety for the value of 150000 each stood by Sivamani husband and Wijikala's mother. Nanthakumar was not released as there was not one to stand surety for him.

The judge ordered that they should not leave Mannar area without prior permission from court. And he directed the pass office and Police stations not to permit the women to leave the Mannar area. They were also directed to sign at the Mannar town Police station every alternate Sunday from 15 April between 9 a.m. and 12 noon.

A case filed by the Criminal investigation Department of the Police against Mannar Police and Navy personnel involved in the torture and rape of Sivamani and Wijikala was also taken up for hearing today. The CID in its B report stated that the case had been filed

"On a request made by the human rights commission of the UN the Sri Lankan government appointed a special investigation team headed by SSP J.R Jayawardena".

The CID applied to the court for sending the clothes women were wearing on March 19 for analysis to Colombo.

The Judge directed the Police to arrest and produce the suspects in Court on 23 April. He also directed the Police to hold an identification parade on the same date.

 

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