UN Rights Chief hails star CID sleuth | Sunday Observer

UN Rights Chief hails star CID sleuth

In a week where one of the CID’s top sleuths was being mercilessly vilified in the country’s highest court, the United Nations Envoy on Human Rights has hailed the courage and dedication of law enforcement officials, in a compromised criminal justice system, in her report to the UN Human Rights Council.

In her report, High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet named the OIC of the CID Gang Robberies Branch IP Nishantha Silva, saluting his “persistence and commitment, despite political interference, patronage networks and a generally dysfunctional criminal justice system.”

Article 47 and 49 of the High Commissioner’s report make note of IP Silva by name, referencing his attempted transfer from the CID during the political crisis late last year and his reinstatement.

“Inspector Silva is the lead investigator in a number of emblematic cases where some progress has been made, such as the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda, the abduction of journalist Keith Noyahr, the murder of rugby player Wasim Thajudeen and the 11 enforced disappearances attributed to navy intelligence. In the case of Vidya Sivaloganathan at the delivery of judgement, the trial-at-bar made specific appreciation of the dedication and unfettered commitment by the CID team who handled the case headed by IP Silva.

 

His transfer at that particular time was perceived as an attempt to prevent further progress in investigations, leading to an outcry from victims and other stakeholders, and an appeal to the National Police Commission. Inspector Silva was reinstated on November 20,” High Commissioner Bachelet’s report stated.

Advances in these investigations were possible, thanks to the persistence of officers such as IP Silva, the High Commissioner’s report noted, adding that, however, these advances were stymied or reversed by political interventions, as demonstrated by the case of “the Chief of Defence Staff and the attempted transfer of Inspector Silva.”

One of the CID’s biggest investigations into a gruesome abduction racket allegedly run by naval personnel suffered a setback this week when the Supreme Court prevented the arrest of former Navy Chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda who the Attorney General has decided to indict on charges of aiding and abetting, and conspiracy to murder.

Karannagoda who has been evading summons from the CID since February 21, sought an order from the Supreme Court seeking to prevent his arrest in the controversial abduction and murder investigation. Making submissions during the hearing, Counsel for Karannagoda, Romesh De Silva PC criticised IP Silva, who was cited as the first respondent in the former Navy Chief’s petition, referring to him as ‘hangman’ and ‘villain of the piece’ and denouncing the CID’s painstaking investigation into the naval abductions case politically motivated and conducted to please the UN and international actors in Geneva.

“This man won the war for us – and now they want to arrest him,” De Silva PC told a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court.

In the courtroom last Thursday, there was no defence for IP Silva from officials at the AG’s Department who appeared as Counsel for the CID who had been cited as respondents.

However, Additional Solicitor General Viraj Dayaratne who appeared in the case, told Court that the CID investigation had been exceedingly cautious and the AG had been consulted throughout for direction and guidelines.

For years, ASG Dayaratne said the CID had been ‘fishing in the dark’ because no evidence had been forthcoming in the complex kidnapping for ransom case. “You have to understand that in this case, the suspects and witnesses are all navy officers. Nobody was willing to volunteer information,” ASG Dayaratne said.

The nature of the cases IP Silva handles at the CID has placed him in the cross hairs of powerful sections of the former regime, many of who have been named or alluded to as persons of interest in attacks on journalists and other violent crimes.

The nature of his work has also placed the CID investigator’s life in serious jeopardy, with threats being openly made against him by politicians and lawyers aligned to the former ruling administration, senior lawyers familiar with Silva’s work said.

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