The Bar Association of Sri Lanka has written to the Inspector General of Police on Thursday (16) to raise concerns about the arrest of attorney-at -aw Hejaz Hisbullah.
Police claimed Hisbullah was arrested by the CID for suspected involvement in the Easter Sunday bombings. Pro-Government electronic media has undertaken a special campaign to tarnish the lawyer’s image, claiming evidence that Hisbullah was involved in terrorist activity because of his involvement with the Ibrahim family.
However in its letter to the IGP, the BASL said it had been informed that the arrest was “based on certain functions he attended in his professional capacity as a member of the bar”. The BASL President Kalinga Indatissa PC also noted that the reasons for attorney Hisbullah’s arrest had not been made clear so far. The BASL letter has called on the police to ensure that the arrested attorney’s professional rights are duly considered and inform the association about the “reasons and basis” of his arrest.
Two sons of the spice trader and multi-millionaire Ibrahim detonated themselves at Shangri-La hotel and Cinnamon Grand hotel on Easter Sunday 2019. Before the April 21 2019 bombings, the Ibrahim family was a prominent part of Muslim society, well known to Muslim politicians and charities alike. The senior Ibrahim whose sons were radicalised into becoming suicide bombers was also arrested after a STF raid on his sprawling Dematagoda residence soon after the six bombs went off. Ibrahim the father has been in police custody since April 2019.
Hejaz Hisbullah is an old boy of St Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia and a well-known debater during his school years. After excelling at Law College Hisbullah joined the Attorney General’s Department where he served for nearly a decade as a state counsel. The young attorney shot to fame when he represented Elections Commission member Dr Ratnajeevan Hoole in the petitions challenging the illegal dissolution of Parliament by former President Maithripala Sirisena during the failed October 2018 coup. Hisbullah has earned a reputation for championing unpopular causes and standing up for victims rendered voiceless by state repression and discrimination, famously taking up the case of Dr Shafi in 2019 after the Muslim surgeon was falsely accused of forcibly sterilising Sinhalese women during caesarean sections at the Kurunegala teaching hospital.
In a statement released by his family, the arrested lawyer said he was of the firm view that his arrest was “illegal and arbitrary and has been done for collateral purposes, with the intention of stifling dissent”. The lawyer also said he would fully cooperate with the investigation by the CID, which he hoped would be impartial and independent.
We publish below the statement in full: