CID Director reveals how top AG’s official impeded probe on Navy abduction case | Sunday Observer

CID Director reveals how top AG’s official impeded probe on Navy abduction case

5 August, 2018

Revelations in open court by the head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) about how a high ranking official in the Attorney General’s Department had interfered in a probe led by his men into the abductions of 11 Tamil youth in 2008, allegedly by Sri Lanka Navy personnel, sent shock-waves through the legal community this week.

In open court last Tuesday (31), CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera alleged that the lawyer now appearing for the navy suspects arrested in connection with the case, also appeared to represent the suspects instead of the CID or the aggrieved parties even when he served as a senior official at the AG’s Department.

The CID Director’s intervention in court was related to an application made by President’s Counsel Shavindra Fernando and another Counsel for the suspects, Asith Siriwardane, to have their names removed from the CID B report of the investigation. The counsel told court that they had prejudiced by the inclusion of their names in the B report. The former Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Shavindra Fernando PC, who has since retired from the Attorney General’s Department, currently serves as Defence Counsel for several navy suspects in the same abduction case, now under magisterial inquiry at the Fort Magistrate’s Court.

CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera provided a detailed description of facts stated in the CID B report presented in court, which claims that Shavindra Fernando PC who was then serving as a Deputy Solicitor General of the Attorney General’s Department, had attempted to impede the CID investigation into the abductions. The B report also noted that this alleged interference had been communicated to then Senior State Counsel Haripriya Jayasundera who was directing the CID investigation, and then Solicitor General Suhada Gamlath.

SSP Abeysekera also submitted to court a letter addressed to then IGP N.K. Illangakoon from former Solicitor General (SG) Suhada Gamlath, dated September 22, 2015. In his letter, SG Gamlath informs the IGP that CID investigators had been told to remove references to Shavindra Fernando, Haripriya Jayasundera and Suhada Gamlath in the B report filed by IP Nishantha Silva. “I have advised I.P. Nishantha Silva and DIG (CID) to have the said references in the B report deleted, however no such steps have been taken to date. You are hereby advised, to instruct your officers to meet me and get instructions as what steps need be taken to delete the references stated above. You may also advise them that the failure to carry out the said instructions would entail appropriate legal consequences,” the former Solicitor General’s letter states. The letter was copied to DIG CID and IP Silva.

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The explosive revelations in the Fort Magistrate’s Court last Monday went largely unnoticed, but made ripples in the legal fraternity because the incident marked the first time that a senior official of the AG’s Department has been named in a police B report for having attempted to interfere with an investigation. The B reports were filed by CID OIC Nishantha Silva and Ranjith Munasinghe who are the main investigating officials in the case.

Letter to IGP from former SG Suhada Gamlath ordering the removal of AG’s officials names from the CID B report

SSP Shani Abeysekera told court last Monday (30), that Fernando PC, while serving as Additional Solicitor General at the AG’s Department, had instructed the OIC of the CID and himself, to avoid questioning certain suspects in the abduction case. The CID Director told court that when Habeas Corpus petitions were filed by the relatives of the abducted boys in 2013, Fernando PC instructed him to get his investigators IP Nishantha Silva and Ranjith Munasinghe admitted in hospital or give them other inquiries in order to cause delays. Since then DSG Fernando was supervising the probe at the time, the CID had no choice but to follow his directives, the CID Director told court.

The CID Director also referred to a meeting at the Defence Ministry at which Fernando PC had been present but said he was not in a position to reveal details of that meeting to court.

Fernando PC, was present in the courtroom at the time rejected the allegation as totally false and that his name had been included in the B report with malicious intent. He said he had worked for the Attorney General’s Department for 30 years, and had been representing the AG in the Habeaus Corpus cases, since AG was cited as a respondent.

SSP Abeysekera also reported to Court that another lawyer for the navy suspects, Asith Siriwardane, had brought his client Navy Captain Jagath Ranasinghe to his office at the CID headquarters, and told him how Ranasinghe was a war hero, and should not be listed as a suspect in the case. Abeysekera, told court that while he acknowledged the navy officer’s contributions in battle, he had turned down the request. Counsel Siriwardane had used an old acquaintance with him from a previous case he was investigating, to secure the meeting, SSP Abeysekera explained.

Responding to the allegation, Attorney at Law Asith Siriwardane said that he had not made such a request from the CID Director and added that he had only visited SSP Abeysekera with his client in the capacity of his lawyer to convey the things his client had wanted to share with the CID director.

He added that the CID Director had no way of proving they met, but still acknowledged that a meeting had taken place.

Counsel Siriwardane also implied in court that CID officials were currently wielding immense power and were not looking into any of their complaints,but added that this could change. To which SSP Abeysekera responded that they were carrying out their duties in full knowledge of what the consequences would be, in the event power changed hands.

Responding to the proceedings, Magistrate Jayaratne noted that according to Section 120/2 of the Criminal Procedure Code, only details relevant to the case should be included in a police B report presented to court. However both Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara and Counsel for the Petitioners Achala Seneviratne informed court that investigators have the right to include all details that might affect a case in their B report.

Section 120 of the Criminal Procedure Code states investigators must periodically report to court about the progress of an investigation and that progress includes any obstacle, obstruction they face in the investigation, the Senior State Counsel argued. If there was such influence exerted, the CID had every right to inform court, SSC Bandara added, arguing that the court had no jurisdiction to order removal or expunging of details included in a B Report.

The Magistrate agreed with this argument and the application to have their names removed from the B report by Fernando PC and Counsel Siriwardane proved unsuccessful.

The B report was originally filed by Nishantha Silva, who was by then promoted to OIC, on February 19, 2015 while the attempts to influence the investigation occurred in 2012-2013, Sunday Observer learns.

Investigations into the abductions of 11 youth began on June 10, 2009. The first five boys linked to the navy abduction case were taken from Dehiwala on September 17, 2008, but as time went on, other victims were also found and linked to the same navy abduction squad.

Ten suspects from the Sri Lanka Navy including former Navy Spokesman Commodore D.K.P. Dassanayake have been arrested in connection with the abduction of the 11 youth in 2008-2009. The Fort Magistrate has issued a red notice for the arrest of Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi alias Navy Sampath, after the CID informed court earlier this year that they suspected former Commander of the Navy Admiral Ravi Wijegunewardane had helped Navy Sampath to flee Sri Lanka.

Senior officials at the Attorney General’s Department speaking confidentially told *Sunday Observer* that the CID investigators had been subjected to vicious personal attacks in the course of this controversial case, including in the media, alleging that they have been bought or influenced. The investigation spanned several years and was very complex and CID had done a painstaking job of collecting facts to build the case, despite the resistance and non-cooperation the agency had faced, the official noted.