Confession based convicted to be released
[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 July 2002, 22:08 GMT]
Tamil political prisoners who have been indicted solely on their confessions should be released it was agreed at a top level conference held Thursday evening at Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence. It was also decided that immediate steps should be taken to dispose of all other cases within a month.
Minister of Defence, Mr.Tilak Marapone, presided over the conference which was attended by the Attorney General Mr. K. C. Kamalasabeyson, Defence Secretary Mr. Austin Fernando, Interior Ministry Secretary, Mr. M. M. Junaid, Minister P. Chandrasekaran and a group of Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians headed by their Parliamentary group leader, Mr. R. Sampanthan.
At the start of the meeting the TNA delegation requested the Defence Minister to take steps to release all Tamil political prisoners immediately, except those charged for major incidents such as Central Bank bomb blast, Kandy Dalada Maligawa attack and the suicide bomb attack on President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
The TNA pointed out that it was meaningless to detain Tamil political prisoners continuously at a time peace has returned to the country and members of Liberations Tigers have been allowed freedom of movement in the northeast province under the ceasefire agreement. The TNA delegation described the situation as contradicting present peace initiatives.
People can be sentenced under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) solely on the basis of the confession obtained from them and the evidence of the Police officer who recorded it. This is one of the main causes of torture in custody human rights activists say: the ‘required’ confession is more often than not obtained simply through torture.
"We have already taken a decision to release accused in several PTA cases and state counsels are awaiting for the next date of trial to move for the discharge of them," said the Attorney General had stated.
Thereafter the TNA delegation named a four-member panel of lawyers comprising Messrs A. Vinayagamoorthy, N. Sri Kantha, N. Raviraj and G. G. Gajendrakumar to work with the AG's department to advance the dates of trial of such cases in respective courts.
The Attorney General Mr. K. C. Kamalasabeyson said since the ceasefire agreement came into force, 415 Tamil political prisoners had been released. He added that the total number of Tamil political prisoners now in detention is 349.
He gave the details of the prisoners now being held in various prisons as following: Kalutara- 199, Batticaloa-30, Welikada-27, Badulla-09, Bogambara-02, Trincomalee-08, Magazine prison-04, Negombo-17, Anuradhapura-34, Jaffna-14, and Galle-05.
It was also agreed to consider favourably releasing the accused who have been indicted for possessing weapons and explosives.
When the TNA delegation pointed out that regarding some Tamil political prisoners the Police have still not completed their investigation and not submitted their reports to the Attorney general for further action, the Interior Ministry Secretary Mr. M.M.Junaid promised to submit police reports in such cases within two weeks' to the Attorney General.
The TNA delegation comprised Messrs Mr. Sampanthan, Joseph Pararajasingham, A. Vinayagamoorthy, G. G. Gajendrakumar, N. Raviraj, M. K. Sivajilingam, Rajaguhaneswaran, Chandra Nehru, K. Thurairetnasingham, and N. Sri Kantha.