Sinhala nationalists support Mannar rape accused

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 April 2001, 20:16 GMT]
The former officer in charge of the Mannar Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) N.P.N.Suraweera who is accused of torturing and sexually assaulting two women in custody on 19 March filed a petition Wednesday in the court of appeal that the case against him should be heard in Colombo and not in the district court of Mannar. The Sinhala nationalist politician lawyer Mr. S.L Gunasekera appeared for the Police officer. Suraweera said in his petition that the two women were not raped in custody and that they started saying so only after the Mannar Bishop who, according to him, has close links with the Liberation Tigers visited them on 27 March.

He said that the Bishop had a meeting for half an hour with the Mannar district judge at his residence the same day. Suraweera charged that the judge ordered a second medical examination of the women on 28 March consequent to this meeting.

The officer further stated in his petition that the two women were produced before the Mannar District Medical Officer for examination on 22 March and before the Superintendent of Police (Mannar) on 24 March. Wijikala's mother saw her in CSU custody on 26 March and that the ICRC visited her on 26 and 27 March. "On none of these occasions did the women tell anyone they were raped. Therefore it is with the aim of blocking us from working against the Liberation Tigers that the accusations have been brought against me" Suraweera said in his petition.

A Sinhala extremist group has taken up the cause of Suraweera. The group, a breakaway faction of the Sihala Urumaya, is led by the lawyer politician S.L.Gunasekera. Sinhala nationalists and extremist groups that have come out in support Suraweera charge that he has been framed by sympathizers and operatives of the Liberation Tigers.

Human rights lawyers said that transferring to Colombo cases in which Sri Lankan security forces personnel are accused of raping and murdering Tamils is a well-established ploy in the island's legal system to protect the culprits. "When cases are transferred to Colombo it is easy to intimidate witnesses or eventually tire them of travelling to the capital on each date" one of them said.


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