IUSF Convenor Wasantha Mudalige remanded till mid-Jan.

Following Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) Convenor Wasantha Mudalige being further remanded until 17 January 2023, after being produced before the Colombo Magistrate’s Court yesterday (13), several parties including the IUSF and “aragalaya” (people’s struggle) activists have raised concerns regarding the actions of the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID), and the Attorney General’s (AG’s) Department.

Mudalige, who was in remand custody under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (PTA), was produced before Colombo Additional Magistrate T.N.L. Mahawatte last morning.

President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris who appeared for Mudalige informed the court that the B-report submitted by the TID regarding Mudalige does not contain any matter that falls under the PTA. He therefore requested the court to pay attention to the fact that charges have been filed against Mudalige and Inter-University Bhikkhus’ Federation (IUBF) Convenor Ven. Galwewa Siridhamma Thera under the PTA, while others who have been arrested during recent protests in Colombo have been charged under the Penal Code and the National Thoroughfares Act, No. 40 of 2008.

Senior Deputy Solicitor General (SDSG) Dileepa Peiris appeared for the AG’s Department, and the TID was represented by a Chief Inspector of Police.

SDSG Peiris informed the court that a person named Piyumal Samarasinghe, also known as “Motivation Appachchi”, and another person named Gemunu Wijewardena had recorded a statement with the TID regarding the incidents involving Mudalige. Through those statements, he said, it has been revealed that the “aragalaya” had been carried out in a peaceful manner at its inception, but that the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) and the IUSF had subsequently incited violence within the “aragalaya”. He said that although the “aragalaya” is not something that is wrong, acts of violence should be investigated, adding that the investigation against Mudalige comprises part of such. 

Additional Magistrate Mahawatte then said that she had ordered the relevant officers to carry out the investigations into the matter as soon as possible. The Additional Magistrate then ordered that Mudalige be further remanded until 17 January 2023. She also ordered the TID to conduct an independent investigation into the matter and to submit a summary of the evidence compiled against Mudalige to the court when the case will be taken up again on 17 January 2023.

Commenting to the media yesterday, Attorney-at-Law and “aragalaya” activist, Nuwan Bopage said: “The AG’s Department said that it was the IUSF which spread the violence, presenting a statement of a person called ‘Motivation Appachchi’. He is a person who has nothing to do with the ‘aragalaya’, and was expelled from the same. We feel sorry for the Police and the TID as it is based on the statement of such a person that they are detaining Mudalige. 

“The AG’s Department should also be ashamed. It recently withdrew the charges against former Navy Commander and Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda related to the killing of 12 people. There is no such allegation of murder against Mudalige. So why can’t the AG’s Department come to an agreement on granting bail to Mudalige? We hope that both the AG’s Department and the TID will work honestly and make arrangements to grant bail to him before 17 January 2023,” he further said.

Siridhamma Thera also said, speaking to the media: “The AG’s Department must express consent to grant bail to Mudalige, but the AG’s Department representatives informed the court that the AG has not expressed consent to grant him bail. The AG’s Department representatives said many things before the court and some of them were the same things that President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on previous occasions. What we feel is that the decision of the AG is the same as that of the Government.”

The IUSF had organised a protest in Colombo on 18 August against Wickremesinghe and the Government. A total of 16 university students who were arrested during that protest were released on bail after being produced before the Colombo Magistrate on 19 August, while Mudalige, Siridhamma Thera, and another IUSF member Hashan Jeewantha were placed under detention. Of them, both Jeewantha and Siridhamma Thera have now been enlarged on bail. 

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