Innocent man was illegally arrested, tortured and denied justice by Thambuththegama Police

( October 17, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that Mr. Madabavitage Samantha (38) of No: 127/A/1, Paliyatiyana, Devalapola, Minuwangoda in the Gampaha District was assaulted and robbed of a gold ring by two people in the town of Thambuththegama in the Anuradhapura District while he was on his way home from a church feast with his assistant, Piyal. When two police officers with the Thambuththegama Police Station arrived at the scene, they worked closely with the men who had committed the assault, and arrested the two injured victims. The victims requested medical treatment but were refused and were detained at the police station. Later, they were admitted to the Thambuththegama Government Hospital for treatment. The police did not accept the complaint of assault and robbery of the gold ring and instead filed fabricated charges against the two victims. Two days later, the case was withdrawn. The victims made another complaint to the police headquarters, but the complaint has not been investigated. This case is yet another illustration of the exceptional collapse of the rule of law in the country.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to information that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) received on 15 August 2011 Mr. Madabavitage Samantha and his assistant, Mr. Piyal Thilakarathna went to Madu Church in the Mannar District for a church feast. Samantha attended the feast in order to sell a consignment of rabuntan. Samantha and his assistant travelled to Madu Church on a friend’s three-wheeler with the license plate number JK 1923. At 4:30pm, after they had sold the consignment, Samantha and his assistant began to make their way back home.
On their way home, Samantha began to feel tired and decided to park the three-wheeler on the side of the road, take a short nap and then continue the journey. He stopped the vehicle near a garment factory in the town of Thambuththegama. In his possession was Rs.27,500 and his gold wedding ring.
Samantha woke when a three-wheeler carrying two people stopped next to him. One of the passengers who was later identified as Thushara asked for his identity card. Samantha replied that he was not obliged to give him his identity card unless Thushara was a police officer. Samantha noted that both passengers were highly intoxicated. Next, Thushara struck Samantha several times on his head, leaving him feeling dizzy and faint. When he regained consciousness, he felt Thushara remove his wedding ring. Then Thushara started beating Samantha and shouting obscenities. The security guards of the garment factory chased Thushara away. Soon after, two uniformed policemen arrived on a motorbike and Thushara secretly talked to both police officer and left with his companion. Samantha approached the policemen and asked them to take him to the police station so that he could file a written complaint. The police officers refused, saying that making a complaint would cause him more difficulty. Samantha also asked the policemen to take him to the nearby hospital for the treatment of his injuries, but the policemen refused this request as well. Samantha speculated that the police officers were working with Thushara and the other man who had assaulted him and taken his ring.
Soon after, Thushara returned to the scene with a woman, who told the officers that an unknown person had been loitering around her residence wearing a red t-shirt. The police officers then brought Samantha and his assistant to the Thambuththegama Police Station, where they were detained in a police cell. Samantha attempted to explain to the officers what had happened, and asked them to take him to the hospital for the treatment of his injuries. During this time, Thushara entered his cell and shouted at him. The policemen refused his requests and degraded him with obscene language. Samantha noted that denying essential medical treatment while in custody constitutes torture under Sri Lankan law. The next day at 2am, the police brought Samantha to the Thambuththegama Government Hospital for treatment. The doctor advised the police to allow Samantha to be admitted for treatment, and they acquiesced. In the evening, Samantha was brought from the hospital to a court, where their case (B/644/2011) was presented to the Magistrate of Thambuththegama. Samantha’s assistant, Piyal, was also brought to court. Samantha explained what had happened with Thushara and the police. The magistrate directed prison officials to provide Samantha with medical treatment. On 19 August, Samantha and Piyal were once again brought before the magistrate. The police stated that since there was no evidence against either suspect, the case should be withdrawn. The magistrate concurred and ordered their release.
However, Samantha noted that the police did not accept his complaint, nor did they take action against Thushara and his companion for assaulting him and taking his ring. The magistrate also did not take any action against the police officers who assisted Thushara and his companion in the assault and had illegally arrested, tortured and detained him.
On 26 August, Samantha made a complaint (CIB 142/54) at the police headquarters regarding the illegal actions of the police officers at the Thambuththegama Police Station. Samantha has not been informed of any action taken against Thushara or the police officers, and believes that justice was denied for him and Piyal.

Sources: Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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