Innocent man denied justice for eight years

(October 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that Mr. Pathrage Don Jayathilaka (56) of Molkava, Baduraliya in Kalutara District was illegally arrested and severely tortured by the police officers attached to the Baduraliya Police Station on 21 October 2003. Then the police officers forced him to accepted crime of possession of illicit liquor which he vehemently denied. The police then filed fabricated charge against him in Matugama Magistrate Court. Jayathilaka, a single farmer, determined to fight for justice and plead innocent before the Magistrate. Due to the absence of the police officers in court and delays in submitting Government’s Analyst Reports the case was delayed for 8 years. Finally on 19 August 2011 Jayathilaka was acquitted by the Magistrate. Jayathilaka has made several complaints seeking justice against the illegal actions of the police officers but none of the authorities contacted have initiated an investigation into the matter. This case is yet another illustration of the exceptional collapse of the rule of law in the country.
CASE NARRATIVE:
According to the information the Asian Human Rights Commission has received Mr. Pathrage Don Jayathilaka (56) of Molkava, Baduraliya in Kalutara District. Jayathilaka is a farmer and is single. He has been residing in the same village since his childhood.
On several occasions police officers attached to Baduraliya Police Station came to arrest Jayathilaka’s brother, P.D. Sunil for producing illicit liquor and when they failed to locate and arrest the brother they arrested Jayathilaka in his place. This happened despite the fact that the police were well aware that Jayathilaka did not consume alcohol and was not involved with its production or distribution of illicit liquor.
Jayathilaka had to pay bribes to the arresting police officers to avoid further harassment by being produced before a court of law. Jayathilaka paid these bribes on more than ten occasions as he had no relatives that could come and rescue him from the court proceedings.
On 21 October 2003, group of police officers attached to the Baduralaiya Police came in search of his brother and once again when they could not find him they arrested Jayathilaka. Jayathilaka clearly identified one policeman as officer Leelarathna as he had been involved in arresting him and taking bribes from him on several occasions in the past. There were other two police officers as well. Then he was brought to the police station.
At the police station police officer Leelarathna tried to force Jaythilaka to sign a document prepared by him and which was not explained to him. When Jayathilaka refused to sign the documents he was at first threatened and then beaten and kicked.
On 22 October 2003, the police officers brought Jayathilaka to the Magistrate’s Court of Matugama and produced him with fabricated charge of the possession of 8 drams of illicit liquor. Jayathilaka from the very beginning vehemently denied the charge and pleaded not guilty before the Magistrate.
Considering the facts submitted by Jayathilaka himself before the Magistrate he was granted bail with the condition of Rs.5000.00 as surety. However, there was no body to fulfill the bail condition and so he was not released at that time. Then again on 28 October his case was taken up before the same Magistrate and his sister provided the money after pawning her jewelry. Jayathilaka was finally released on bail and later learned that his case number was 60954.
After his release Jayathilaka complained to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) and the National Police Commission (NPC) about the illegal arrest, detention, torture and filing of fabrication of fabricated charges. There has never been any response by any of these agencies regarding the violation of his rights.
Jayathilaka decided to fight for justice against the routine malpractice of the police officers. He had to wait another two years to face the trial, because of the absence of the police in court. Then again his case was delayed for a further two years due to the delay by the government analyst in submitting their report to the court.
Finally after eight years of continuous delays on 19 August 2011, the case was taken up for trial and Jayathilaka was able to prove his innocence before the Magistrate against the fabricated charges filed by the police officers. The Magistrate acquitted Jayathilaka from all the charges filed against him.
At the end Jayathilaka complained to the Magistrate against about the police officers for their procedural delay in the court process. He further explained that police officers involved in filling the charges and arresting him intentionally used their official capacities to harass him. He clearly further submitted the fact that the malicious conduct of the police officers could be prosecuted beyond reasonable doubt.
After he was released Jayathilaka from the charges he again complained to the authorities including Inspector General of Police (IGP), Human Rights Commission and National Police Commission seeking justice. But, despite several reminders, no action has been taken against the culprit police officers. 
– Source: Asian Human Rights Commission 
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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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