Mannar rape and torture suspects score one

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 June 2001, 21:11 GMT]
The Mannar judge M.H.M Ajmeer instructed the Superintendent of the Anuradhapura prison that the 14 Police and Sri Lanka Navy personnel accused in the rape and torture of two women in Mannar on 19 March need not be produced in court Wednesday following an interim order by the Court of Appeal, legal sources said Tuesday.

The Sri Lanka Navy in Mannar also sent a certified copy of the interim order dated 31 May 2001 to the magistrate on behalf of a naval rating who had petitioned the Court of Appeal that the case in which he and 13 security forces personnel are accused of raping and torturing two women in custody be transferred to "Anuradhapura or an appropriate Court" for security reasons.

Human rights activist say that by getting such cases against them transferred to courts in Sinhala areas or in Colombo is a standard ruse by Sri Lankan security forces personnel to effectively stymie prosecution.

On 12 July 1999 a young woman, Ida Kamaleeta, 21, was raped and murdered in Pallimunai, a suburb of Mannar town allegedly by Sri Lanka army soldiers. Seven soldiers were accused in the case.

The case was transferred to the Chief Magistrate's Court in Colombo in June 2000 on an advice by the CID to the Attorney General. A date for trial has not yet been fixed since the transfer to Colombo.

The naval rating Noroshan Kollure states in his appeal that he would not be safe in Mannar because a Sergeant of the Police Counter Subversive Unit (CSU) was killed there on 24 May.

Human rights sources in Mannar, however, say that the circumstances of the CSU sergeant's killing should be properly investigated.

sara_funeral_1_13012000.gif
The burial of a young Brahmin woman, Sarathambal took place at the Khanate cemetery, Borella in Colombo on 13 January 2000. Sarathamabal,29, was gang-raped and murdered in Punguduthivu in Jaffna, allegedly by Sri Lanka Navy personnel on 28 December 1999. Her father Chandrasekara Sarma and her three-year old daughter performed the last rites. The CID last week said that there was no evidence to continue the case. (Photo: TamilNet)
The Sergeant Kalu Arachchilage Madduma Bandara, 51 of Kegalle, was killed on 24 May while returning from court around 1.30 p.m. in the afternoon on Pallimunai Road in Mannar town. There are many security forces sentry points and positions on Pallimunai road which is in the heart of the high security zone of Mannar town. The sergeant had been posted to the CSU only a few days earlier before his killing, according to a human rights activist in Mannar town. The Police arrested a fourteen year old boy, Suntharalingam Surenthiran, who did not have a pass to stay in Mannar when it searched the Pallimunai road area following the killing of the sergeant. The judge released the boy on personal bail next day 25 May when the Police produced him in court and wanted to remand him.

On 23 May, the day before the 14 suspects were to be produced in court, Inspector of Police of the Criminal Investigation Department Kamal Perera had informed the Superintendent of the Anuradhapura prison he had intelligence that there was a threat to their (the suspects') lives in Mannar and hence requested him (the Superintendent) not to send them to court on 24 May when the case was scheduled to be heard. The Superintendent of the Anuradhapura prison communicated the matter to the Mannar judge the same day- 23 May.

The suspects were not produced in court on 24 May when the case came for hearing. Although the judge took exception to this initially, the killing of the sergeant that afternoon changed the situation.

"The circumstances seem to be working only in favour of getting the case transferred out of Mannar", a human rights activist in Vavuniya said.

"If the case is transferred out of Mannar to a Sinhala area or Colombo there is very little chance that justice would be done. It would simply mean that the victims cannot go there to give evidence. Even if they brave it, there is no doubt it will meet the same fate as the Mayilanthanai case", a human rights lawyer in Colombo said.

The following the full text of the naval ratings appeal:

"In the Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

31/05/2001 In the matter of an application for transfer under Section 46 of the Judicature Act No 02 of 1978, Kollure Appuhamilage Noroshan Darshana Kollure, 70/B, Weboda East. Petitioner

VS

1. Director, CID, Colombo 2. Honourable The Attorney General Attorney General's Department, Colombo 12

CA application 776/2001 Magistrate Court Mannar 131/2001 31.05.2001 Before Jeyasinghe Justice, Jeyawickrema Justice.

A.S.M. Perera PC with S. Daluwatta for the Petitioner A.Wengapuli, SC for the Respondents

This is an application for the transfer of the original prosecution pending before the Magistrate Court, Mannar Case No B131/2001 to Anuradhapura or an appropriate Court.

Mr.Srivatheerana PC states that the petitioner is presently detained at the Anuradhapura remand prison and the matter is due to call on 6.62001 before the Learned Magistrate, Mannar. The Petitioner apprehends bodily harm in the event of being sent from Anuradhapura to appear before the Magistrates Court. He also states that C.S.U Officer was killed on 24.05.2001 when he was returning from the Magistrates Court, Mannar Learned State Counsel also states that he is aware of the incident on 24.05.2001. He undertakes to give instruction to the prison authority not to produce the petitioner before Magistrates' Court, Mannar on 06.06.2001.

The Court has the submission of the Learned President Counsel and the Learned State Counsel considered. Court is of the view that the application of the learned president Counsel is not without merit considering the present security situation in the Mannar area.

Issue a certified copy of the today's proceeding on payment of the usual charge.

Mention on 07.06.2001 on which date Mr. Sarath Perera PC will support for interim relief if necessary

I do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the journal entry 31.05.2001 filed of record in court of appeal case No 776/2001".

Last Monday the CID which investigated the rape and murder of a young mother in Jaffna in December 1999 told the President's Committee on Unlawful Arrests and Harassment that there was no evidence to continue the case.

Tamil Politicians charge that the Sri Lanka Navy personnel who were allegedly involved in the rape and murder of Sarathambaal Saravanabhavanantha Kurukkal, 29, the daughter of a Brahmin priest in the island of Pungudutheevu were transferred out of the area and investigators have worked deliberately to uselessly prolong and close the case.

Mrs. Murugesapillai Koneswary, mother of 4 children, of Central Camp, Amparai District, was raped and murdered by military trained Policemen on 17 May 1997. The case is still pending for lack of evidence as witnesses intimidated by Police are scared to appear in court.

Scores of such cases gather dust in court as investigators avail themselves of the judicial process in Sri Lanka to slowly push these under the carpet of oblivion.


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