Abduction of 11 youths: Some Defense counsel requested to favour Navy individuals: CID

During the magisterial inquiry relating to the alleged abduction of 11 youths in 2008, Director of the CID Shani Abeysekara today revealed that, several years ago, some of the defence lawyers, who currently represent the suspects, have requested him to favour several Navy individuals, who were at that time not named as suspects into the inquiry.

At the onset of the inquiry, President’s Counsel Shavendra Fernando and Counsel Asith Siriwardena raised a question over the inclusion of some details relating to them made by the prosecution on February 8, 2018 in the B report.

In February, the prosecution in a further report had included about some alleged involvement of the two defence counsel in the investigations. These details only appeared in the B report as they were not expressed to the Magistrate in open court.

Rejecting those allegations, the Defence counsel were of the view that it was totally false as the Prosecution had attempted to tarnish their reputation using the B report maliciously.

While the Prosecution and the Defense were contesting on this inclusion made by the prosecution into the B report, Director of the CID said what actually was included. He said Counsel Asith Siriwardena, who currently appeared for the second suspect of the inquiry (Sumith Ranasinghe) had visited the CID Director some time back (in 2013) and insisted not to name his client as a suspect into the inquiry.

Additionally, Mr. Shani Abeysekara also revealed that some suspects including D.K.P. Dasanayake had also met two Attorney General’s Department officers with the assistance of Counsel Asith Siriwardena prior to those individuals are named as suspects into the inquiry.

However, Counsel Asith Siriwardena denied all the allegations and maintained that he had not solicited such request from the Director of the CID. And also challenge the CID Director to prove such an alleged involvement of his in assisting those individuals to meet people in the AG Department.

He was of the view that he visited the Director with the second suspect, who was not a suspect then, in the capacity as a lawyer to convey whatever things his client wanted to share with the Director.
The Defence counsel also drew the Court attention on the fact that why these facts suddenly came into light as they happened sometime back.

It was said that both Defence counsel had earlier served for the Attorney General’s Department and now at the private bar.

Explaining about the other inclusion into the B report on Shavendra Fernando PC, CID Director said that he had instructed him and the OIC of the CID who conducted the abduction inquiry to avoid getting down certain people into the investigation when Mr. Fernando was serving as a Deputy Solicitor General of the Attorney General’s Department.

According to the Director, this has happened during the time period where three ‘Habeas corpus’ cases were being inquired at the Chief Magistrate’s Court, where Mr. Fernando appeared for the respondents.

Rejecting all the allegations, Shavendra Fernando PC said that he had served for the Attorney General’s Department over thirty years and also served as legal director at the Navy. He said that it was a representation on behalf of the Attorney General in those Habeas corpus cases as the AG was too cited as a respondent in the habeas corpus cases by the petitioners.

After listening to some lengthy submissions of the counsel, the Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne directed the CID to prevent including irrelevant facts in the B report if those facts are outside of the inquiry.

Meanwhile, considering the delay that took prosecution to conclude the investigation, Counsel Achala Seneviratne, who appeared for the aggrieved parties asked the Court and the Prosecution as to why some individuals mentioned continuously in several B reports are not named as suspects into the inquiry.

She was of the view that there was sufficient evidence in some of the statements recorded by the prosecution to ascertain the some individuals have given instructions to the suspects.

When the Magistrate asked to be more certain on such alleged individuals, Counsel Seneviratne said “Former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda was one of them and why he was not named yet as a suspect is a serious question”.

Replying to that comment, Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara who appeared for the CID explained the importance of perusing all the materials carefully before taking actions against individuals, he was of the view that the prosecution would need to consider on the weight of the evidence that they have to proceed with the case.

When questioned by the Magistrate, SSC Janaka Bandara said that they will thoroughly look into the materials collected in the whole inquiry within three months and report to court on the process of further legal actions of indictments. (Shehan Chamika Silva)