(December 09, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Mr. Ranasinghe Arachchige Sanjeewa (33), a driver by profession, has been in police remand and arbitrary detention for more than fifty days following his illegal arrest by the Talatuoya police of Kandy district. Sanjeewa is under the custody of the Welikada Remand Prison. The Dematagoda police have received permission from a Magistrate Court to take Sanjeewa out of the cell for the purpose of investigation. The family is afraid that Sanjeewa may be killed ‘attempting to escape’ or brutally tortured. Please intervene immediately to protect Sanjeewa’s right to life and security from torture while in custody.
According to the information received by the Asian Human Rights Commission Mr. Ranasinghe Arachchige Sanjeewa (33) of 218/4, Talapiyannawa, Ampitiya in Kandy District, is married and a father of one boy. His wife is expecting another child. Sanjeewa drives his own car for rental transportation services. Besides driving his own car Sanjeewa also works for a company, which provides financial loans to interested persons to buy new vehicles on installment.
On 17 October 2011, at around 11p.m., two police officers in uniform and four plain clothed persons came to Sanjeewa’s house and asked him to come out. The police told him that he had to give a statement and promised his mother, Mrs. A.G. Priyawathi, that her son will return within an hour after making his statement to the police. They told Sanjeewa’s family that they will keep two policemen at the entrance of the house until Sanjeewa returns home from the police station. By doing so, in fact, the police prevented anyone from leaving or entering the house. The two policemen, who stayed back at the entrance of the house, also prevented Mrs. Priyawathi and her other son from making any phone calls. After around an hour the two policemen told the family that they were going to bring some drinks for themselves and did not return.
Later, when Sanjeewa’s wife Mrs. Dhammika had called 119 for emergency service of the police in order to check Sanjeewa’s whereabouts, she came to know that the police had sent her husband to Colombo. The emergency police unit sent a police team from the Talatuoya police station, who took a written statement from Dhammika. The police officers refused to give any explanation regarding the reasons of sending Sanjeewa to Colombo when Dhammika enquired.
On 18 October, an officer from Talathuoya police had called Dhammika and informed that Sanjeewa was detained under the custody of Colombo Crime Division (CCD) Branch at Dematagoda. The police officer had given a phone number of Police Inspector Mr. Wijesinghe of Dematagoda CCD branch for more information.
On 19 October, Sanjeewa was taken to the Halsdrof Magistrate Court No. 3 for a Test Identification Parade regarding his complaints against the police. However, it was not held on that day. Mr. Sanjeewa was sent to police remand for 14 days and was detained in Welikada Remand Prison.
Again on 1 November Sanjeewa was produced before the same Court and remanded till 8 November. The parade was held on that day and he was further remanded till 22 November.
On 22 November, the Magistrate asked Sanjeewa and few other accused persons whether they would like to be crown witnesses for which Sanjeewa had agreed. However, the police officers have got an order form the open court to take Sanjeewa out of the Welikada Remand Prison for further investigations when necessary and the case was postponed until 6 December.
According to Sanjeewa’s wife, Sanjeewa and few others were accused of an alleged incident of possessing a weapon at the time of seizing a vehicle owned by a company.
At present, Sanjeewa’s wife and the family fears that the police will take Sanjeewa out of the remand prison on the pretext of further investigation for which the police got approval from the Court and Sanjeewa might be tortured or even killed the police. It is a common occurrence in Sri Lanka that the police carry out extrajudicial killings by taking a suspect to a location where he is suspected of stashing some evidence and then claim that they tried to attack the officers and was shot while trying to escape.
Further, the family is afraid that Sanjeewa, who is diabetic, may be left without adequate medical treatment following custodial torture, which may also result serious threats to his life.
Source: Asian Human Rights Commission