MP Rasamanickam says prisoners awaiting transfer to North
By shamindra Ferdinando
Police haven’t yet sought a statement from State Minister of Gem and Jewellery related Industries, Lohan Ratwatte as regards a complaint lodged by the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, in respect of incidents at the Anuradhapura prison on the evening of Sept. 12.
The civil society group, in its complaint, dated 16 Sept. to the CID, hasn’t referred to the incidents at the Welikada prison, also blamed on the then State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation, Lohan Ratwatte. The Kandy District lawmaker relinquished State Ministry of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation though he denied ever causing mayhem in both prisons.
However, the Office of Anuradhapura SSP and the Office of Colombo South SP yesterday (6) told The Island that following instructions received from the Office of Senior, DIG, Crimes, they inquired into the incidents and submitted relevant reports. However, they haven’t recorded MP Ratwatte’s statement as there was no requirement to do so at the moment, Colombo South and Anuradhapura police said.
The Office of Senior DIG Crimes said that SSP Anuradhapura and SP Colombo South had been instructed to inquire into the incidents following instructions received from the Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickremaratne.
Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera on Sept 17 asked IGP Wickremaratne to conduct an inquiry expeditiously into the complaint received on the previous day. Police headquarters acknowledged that there hadn’t been any other complaint, in addition to the one lodged by the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners.
The Island learns that the Police Media hadn’t been so far informed of the progress of the inquiries though the alleged incidents received quite a bit coverage in both print and electronic media.
Authoritative sources said that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) hadn’t been involved in the inquiry though Public Security Ministry statement issued on Sept. Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera, who lodged the complaint with the CID on behalf of the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners told The Island that the police didn’t seek at least to verify their complaint. The civil society activist said that they weren’t aware of the status of the investigation undertaken by the Human Rights Council and the inquiry conducted by retired High Court judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena into the incidents at Anuradhapura and Welikada Prisons.
Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC, on Sept. 22 announced the appointment of retired Judge Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents. Minister Sabry yesterday told The Island that Ms. Weerawardena visited Anuradhapura prison and the inquiry conducted at the Justice Ministry was underway.
Nihal Chandrasiri, Actg. Director (Research and Monitoring), the media contact at the HRC wasn’t available for comment.
Political and legal sources said that in spite of repeated requests, those who had been threatened at gunpoint by lawmaker Ratwatte continued to be held at the Anuradhapura prison.
ITAK/TNA lawmaker Shanakiyan Rasamanickam who visited those threatened said that they requested immediate transfer to a prison in the north. Unfortunately, their request hadn’t been addressed so far, the Batticaloa District MP told The Island, referring to the assurance given by the Justice Minister Sabry in Parliament that the matter would be given serious consideration. MP Rasamanickam said that they were still hopeful the government would ensure their protection.
The first time entrant to Parliament said that the matter was taken up at an adjournment question yesterday.
The MP declined an offer made by Minister Sabry to move the prisoners concerned to two prisons in the South.