Public Security Minister’s directive for speedy police probe ignored

Lohan Ratwatte’s raids on prisons:

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Contrary to specific instructions issued by Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera on 17 Sept., the police haven’t initiated an investigation into a complaint received from the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners into the then Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation State Minister Lohan Ratwatte allegedly threatening ex-LTTE cadres held at the Anuradhapura prison.

The Police Headquarters yesterday (3) acknowledged that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) hadn’t commenced an inquiry.

Although Ratwatte gave up the Prisons Management and Prisons’ Rehabilitation portfolio on 15 Sept. taking responsibility for incidents at the Welikada and the Anuradhapura prisons on Sept 6 and Sept 12, respectively, he retained the State Minister for Gem and Jewellery related Industries portfolio.

Weerasekera on 17 Sept. issued a special statement to the media that he had issued instructions to IGP C.D. Wickremaratne to initiate an inquiry immediately into the complaint received the previous day.

Chairman of the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera told The Island that the civil society group had lodged a complaint with the CID. The complaint hasn’t referred to the State Minister’s entry into the Welikada prison.

The Island sought an explanation from Senaka Perera yesterday as regards their failure to refer to the Welikada incident. The lawyer said that they lacked specific information pertaining to the Sept. 6 incident and hence their decision to leave it out.

The civil society group in a statement urged the police to arrest the Commissioner General of Prisons Thushara Upuldeniya and Commissioner General of Prisons (Administration and Rehabilitation) Chandana Ekanayake, in addition to State Minister Ratwatte because they tried to suppress the Anuradhapura incident.

On both occasions, the State Minister, under the influence of liquor, allegedly displayed a weapon and threatened some of those held there.

Ratwatte, in a series of interviews and statements, subsequently denied allegations against him.

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