Writ Petition filed in CA on Welikada prison deaths

Published : 8:37 am  April 5, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 

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By S.S. Selvanaygam   
A writ petition was filed yesterday (04) in the Court of Appeal seeking investigation into the alleged killing of 27 inmates of the Welikade Prisons in Dec 2012 where it is alleged that the army, STF, TID as well as the Prison Intelligence stormed and started shooting. 

 

Petitioner W.S. Nandimal Silva claiming he was the direct eye witness to the incidents that took place on 9th and 10th November, 2012 cited Commissioner General of Prisons, CID Director, IGP, Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs and the Attorney General as Respondents.   

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The Petitioner is 45 years of age and was an employee of the Railway Department from the year 1994 up to 2007. On 25.06.2007 he was arrested and charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and was in remand custody at the Welikada Prison from 2009. As the confessions were rejected by the High Court, the indictments were withdrawn by the Attorney General consequent to which the Petitioner was released from prison on 19.09.2013.   


While being in remand custody, he claims he was a direct eye witness to the incidents that took place on 9th and 10th November 2012 in which 27 inmates of the Welikada prison were killed. The Petitioner states that on 9th November, 2012 at about 1.00 pm he and other prisoners at Welikada prison received information that personnel from the Army and STF were about to enter the prison to conduct a search operation.   


He states that there was an argument between prison officials and a contingent of  the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), Special Task Force (STF) waiting at the gate of the prison on the procedure related to the search operation. The prison officials had objected to the entry of  the TID and STF personnel armed with firearms without prior permission being sought and obtained, he states.   
The TID and STF officials insisted that this was an order issued the by Secretary of Defence and therefore such protocols were not necessary, he states.   


However, at this stage, the Chief Jailor Indika Sampath attached to the Intelligence and Security Division and presently an Assistant Superintendent of Prisons intervened and stated that he would take responsibility and to let the TID/STF inside while the prison officials on duty had lodge a log entry regarding this irregular ingress into the prison by outsiders, he states.   


He states soon after gaining entry into the Welikada prison, the STF/TID and Prison Intelligence Unit had gone into “L” hall and assaulted the prison inmates with the intention of provoking the prisoners.   


As the prisoners had not retaliated, they moved into the “Chapel Hall” where convicted prisoners were kept.   
At this stage the STF and prison intelligence surrounded the building and they were carrying with them weapons and tear gas canisters. As tear gas was directed to even close by cells, several inmates fell down unconscious. Other inmates were rounded up and assaulted. This went on for few hours.  He states around midnight the STF/TID and Prison Intelligence stormed inside the prison and started shooting. The Petitioner who was in the “L Hall” saw a prisoner named T.H. Lesely De Silva dead as a result of the shooting. Petitioner and other prisoners got to know that, Jothipala, Kapila, Manjusri and Marlon were brought in from “Chapel Ward” (convicts) to the M ward and shot. Screaming and shouting were heard from these prisoners and they were shot dead. The TID and Intelligence units gave updates of what was happening with the purpose of intimidating the prisoners, he states.   


The petitioner had seen an officer in a yellow T-Shirt whom he later got to know as Rangajeewa fof the ormer Narcotics Division of the Police. With pistol in hand had asked for one Thushara alias Kalu Thushara. There were several prison officers including Commissioner General of Prisons P.W. Kodippili inside the prison at that time together with the said police Narcotics Unit officer Rangajeewa, he states.   


The petitioner saw Thushara being dragged to the floor and being shot near the gate. The petitioner had personally seen the body of Thushara the next morning and the body had gunshot injuries on the neck. At about 6.00 am the petitioner and some other prisoners saw Amila Malik Perera alias Konda Amila being taken in hand cuff and subsequently the petitioner got to know that Amila too had been killed.   


The Petitioner states that the prison was under the control of the Army until 10.00 am on 10th November, 2012. By that time 27 of the prison inmates had been killed by STF/Army/TID/Prison Intelligence, he states. Petitioner made a complaint to the Criminal Investigation Department on 02.02.2015 regarding the said incident.   


It had also been reported that a store which contained prisoners’ belongings including jewelery which were to be handed over to the prisoners upon their release had also been ransacked and it had many valuable items during this planned attack by the STF, TID and Prison Intelligence .   


He states there had been an inquest proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court of Colombo, however the said proceedings have not been concluded yet.   


He states that there have been several commissions that had been appointed to inquire into the deaths in prison, however none of these commissions had the mandate to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.   


He complains although 4 years has lapsed since the brutal killings of these prisoners, no action has yet been taken by the police or the Attorney General to conduct the investigation and prosecute the offenders.   


The Petitioner states the deceased prisoners were kept in prison in fiscal custody on the orders of the judiciary. He contends it is the judiciary that has the supreme duty to supervise, oversee and be in control of the affairs pertaining to the prisoners.   He laments often their application for bail is rejected by the judiciary and consequently their remand is extended. He underlines when the lives of prisoners are endangered, the Judiciary is under obligation to initiate an investigation and inquiry into such incidents and make appropriate directions.   


He states that the report recently issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has cited the Welikada Prison massacre among other emblematic cases in Sri Lanka and has drawn the attention of the government that no justice has been done to the victims.   


 He alleges the Criminal Investigation Department and the Police Department have failed and neglected to perform their duties according to law and have failed even to launch the basic investigations leading to the prosecution of offenders. The conduct of the Prison Authorities in failing to prevent outsiders from entering the prison and committing the said atrocities should be made subject to credible investigation by the CID, he states.   


He seeks the Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus on the 2nd and 3rd Respondents commanding them to commence according to law the investigations into the incidents.   

 

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