Tamils' confessions in Sinhala: a travesty of justice - Judge

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 January 2002, 19:32 GMT]
The East High Court Judge Mr. J. Visvanathan Wednesday allowed an application made by the defense counsel in a case filed under the Prevention Terrorism Act that a Tamil translation of the confession purported to have been made by the accused should be provided to him (the accused) before the commencement of the proper trial.

The sole evidence against a Sri Lankan person accused under the PTA, is his or her confession to the Police which is invariably recorded in Sinhala. Almost hundred percent of the persons arrested by the Sri Lankan security forces under the PTA today are Tamils, the vast majority of whom do not understand the Sinhala language.

"It would be a travesty of justice if the inquiry were to be held against the accused without providing him the Tamil translation of his confession", the judge said.

sivapalan_k.jpgAttorney Mr. K.Sivapalan in support of his application cited several cases where higher courts had determined that an accused was entitled for a translation of his statement to the police.

The High Court Judge in his order delivered Wednesday at the Trincomalee sessions of the East High Court said: "In the particular case the confession of the accused has been recorded in Sinhala language. The prosecution is to use the confession against the accused to prove his guilt. A voire-dire inquiry would be held if the defense challenges that the police has obtained the confession by torturing the accused. If the court held after such inquiry that the confession was a voluntary one then it would be used against the accused. It would be considered a travesty of justice if the inquiry were to be held against the accused without providing him the Tamil translation of his confession. Therefore the accused has every right to obtain a Tamil translation of his confession which was recorded in Sinhala language before the commencement of the trial."

The High Court Judge cited judgments delivered by higher courts in support of his determination in this case.

State Counsel Mr.Sasi Mahendra appeared for the prosecution.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Wednesday directed the Inspector General of Police to submit the names of Tamil youths who have been detained in several prisons in the country under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The AG further directed the IGP to furnish the names of the youths who have been indicted in courts and are being held without any charges in prisons and detention centres.

Last week the Chief Justice directed the Attorney General to take immediate steps to clear the backlog of PTA cases, stating that more than six hundred Tamil youths are languishing in prisons without being charged in courts.

The AG has further directed the IGP to submit the number of PTA cases where the prosecution solely depends on the confession made by the suspects to prove their guilt.


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