Dear Mr. N K Illangakoon,

SRI LANKA: Officers of the Thalathuoya Police Station beat and filed a fabricated charge against a soldier who rescued his friend from their assault

Name of the victim: Mr. Mr. L. M. Jagath Kuamara
Alleged perpetrators:
Police officers attached to the Thalathuoya Police Station
Date of incident: 23 December 2010
Place of incident: in the Private Bus at Thalathuoya

I am writing to express my serious concern over the case of Mr. L.M Jagath Kuamara (22).
Kumara is a soldier attached to the Vavuniya Army Camp. On 23 December 2010, while on vacation he went to have his hair cut at Thalathuoya town. When he was returning home with a friend by the name of Ruwan Chamara (24) from Thalathuoya in a private bus suddenly the conductor approached Chamara and tried to forced them forward so that the bus could take on more passengers. However, Chamara refused as the bus was already full. There then followed an exchange of words between them. Without cause the conductor started to assault Chamara and Kumara intervened to protect Chamara. The conductor then started to assault Kumara as well.

A few police constables in civilian clothes were travelling in the bus and these officers also started to assault Kumara and kicked him on the chest. Later these men officers identified themselves as officers attached to the Thalathuoya Police Station. Kumara and Chamara alighted from the bus when it stopped close to their houses and returned home. Three days after this incident Jagath Kumara went back to the Vavuniya Army Camp and reported for duty.

After almost two months later on 6 February 2011, some police officers attached to the Thalathuoya Police Station came to Kumara’s house in search of him, and since there was nobody at his house, the police officers left a message with his mother, W Kalyani, asking for Kumara’s details. His mother was asked to report the details to Constable of Police (PC) Mettananda of the Thalathuoya Police Station on the 10 of February 2011.

His mother W Kalyani went to the police along with some friends on 7, 8 and 9 February and asked as to why they were searching for her son but received no information.

On the 10 February a team of police officers came to Kumara’s house and entered by force searching for Kumara, however, only Kumara’s father, mother and the wives of his brothers were at home. The police officers scolded them in filthy language and demanded details of their husbands, Kumara’s brothers who were also serving in the Army. They also demanded their marriage certificates. Then two police officers by the name of Gunatilake, a sergeant and Kalpage threatened Kumara’s parents that they would be killed if Kumara was not produced. Since then the police officers came at night on several occasions and knocked at the door repeatedly almost damaging it.

On the 12 February Kumara’s mother Kalyani went to the Thalatuoya Police Station along with a lawyer but the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) refused to meet them. When the lawyer questioned Sargent Gunatilaka, he said that if details of Kumara were not given he would “Break the bones of the whole family and would kill them,” and this was said in front of the Lawyer, Ananda Hearath. When the lawyer asked to make a complaint he was refused and the police officer, Kalpage, said they would provide the case number later.

Once again they went to the police on the 13 February to meet the OIC and Kalyani was asked to return at 1.00pm. She decided to stay at the police station until that time. Meanwhile Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mohottige arrived at the police station and Kalyani went to him and told him of the harassment that she and her family had faced. Then the ASP questioned another police officer, Ranasinghe and the OIC regarding the incidents. Ranasinghe without giving any reason for the search told the ASP that the whole family would be killed if they did not cooperate and provide Kumara’s details.

Incredibly, despite the fact that this officer told his superior that he would willfully commit a criminal act the ASP did not take any action to reprimand him or make any record of his threat.

When Kalyani went to meet the Lawyer on the 14, the lawyer asked Kalyani to make a complaint at the Human Rights Commission (HRC), which they did. Later in the day the police officers gave the lawyer details about the case no B/15303 in which they stated that they have filed a case against Kumara. Further they stated that the case is supposed to be called on 21 February 2011.

On the 21 Kalyani and her family members went to the Magistrate’s Court of Kandy and waited for the case to be called. However, there was no case with that number and the court officers asked them to return on the 1 March 2011. Once again they went again on the 1 March but no case was called of that number or any case against Kumara.

On 24 March, a police officer sent a note asking Kalyani to meet Sgt Rodrigo and when Kalyani met him on the 26 March 2011, he recorded a statement from her. Despite the fact that she was never allowed to read the statement of have it read to her she was forced to sign it which she did out of fear.

On the complaint made by Kalyani, the HRC regional office in Kandy notified both parties on several occasions but the police officers never turned up. Further the police officers have found the details of the Army camp where Kumara is on duty and have informed the Army officers that Jagath Kumara molested a girl in the bus and they have witnesses to prove the assault. Kumara vehemently denies the charge. Kumara states that police officers have filed this case in vengeance for opposing the officers in the bus when they assaulting his friend Chamara.

The mother of Kumara, Kalyani fears that Jagath Kumara would be arrested at anytime and she and the family members would be killed as the Thalathuoya Police officers are repeatedly threatening them.

I request your urgent intervention to ensure that the authorities listed below instigate an immediate investigation into the allegations of torture and filing fabricated chargers by the police perpetrators, and the prosecution of those proven to be responsible under the criminal law of the country. The officers involved must also be subjected to internal investigations for the breach of the department orders as issued by the police department.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes
William’s Desk

www.williamgomes.org

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William Nicholas Gomes is a human rights activist and freelance journalist based in Britain.

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