BASL calls Police chief to probe assault of law student in Police station

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has called on the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General to initiate legal action against all policeman responsible for the alleged assault of a third year law student inside the Peliyagoda police station which has left the student with serious injuries.

The letter was sent as the victim Migara Gunaratne was warded at the Ragama hospital after being assaulted by policemen on Thursday night when he called over at the police station to hand over a food parcel for one of the suspects in custody, according to the Sunday Times newspaper in Colombo.

The BASL President Kalinga Indatissa in a letter to the IGP said that an immediate inquiry and disciplinary action should be taken against the persons responsible for the attack while criminally prosecuting them for the charges.

He has also called that all officers on duty on that night should be should be subjected to identification.

The letter said that the victim had visited the police station to hand over a food parcel to the client of his brother, Attorney at Law Charitha Gunaratne.

The BASL called the Attorney General to consider directing the police to file a B report initially under the Code of Criminal Procedure Act of 1979.

Meanwhile the Police on Friday submitted a B report to the Colombo Magistrate court seeking to remand the victim on the grounds of obstructing police duties.

However, Additional Magistrate Lochana Abeywickrema turned down the request on the grounds there wasn’t sufficient reasons to remand him and fixed the case for March 1. The Magistrate also informed the Wattala Magistrate to visit the victim at hospital and submit a report.

The victim was produced before JMO S.Wijegunawardena on Thursday night. Police had informed the JMO that they were to remand him, but in view of the injuries sustained the JMO had ordered that the victim be admitted to hospital.

Attorney at law, Vishwa Gunaratne, an uncle of the victim told the Sunday Times that police had allegedly tried to mislead the JMO that the injuries had been caused due to a fall inside the police station.

He said the victim’s father Maithree Gunaratne, a former Govenor of the Central and Uva provinces had visited the police station on the day of the incident around 9.00 p.m., but the police had not told him that his son had been taken to the JMO.

“It was only around 1.00 a.m. my brother found out that his son had been admitted to the Ragama hospital” , he said.

Attorney at law Charitha Gunaratne had visited the Peliyagoda police on Tuesday and raised objections for an alleged attempt to file charges on his client for drug charges though the suspect was arrested for a financial issue.

Mr Vishwa Gunaratne said that even on Tuesday the lawyer had been treated badly by the Police officer at the Peliyagoda police and even after producing the BASL identity card he had been abused.

He said that it was possible that there was misidentification when Charitha’s brother visited the police on Thursday, but the assault cannot be accepted.

Meanwhile four Policemen including the OIC of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Peliyagoda Linton Silva have been interdicted pending an inquiry.

Senior Superintendent of Police of the SIU in the Kelaniya Division D.S. Wickremesinghe told the Sunday Times that statements from the interdicted policemen have been recorded and a further report will be submitted to the IGP, but declined to elaborate.

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana said that two police teams have been assigned to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile the BASL in a press release said the Association condemned the assault and added that the incident cannot be taken in isolation. “Since of late, incidents of this nature by the police have escalated”, it said.

“It is the position of the BASL that there is no room and there must be zero tolerance for Police brutality whether it is against a member of the profession or any other person. Persons cannot be treated like this which is a violation of the very law the police is expected to protect”, the release said.

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