The Court of Appeal will decide if former CID Chief Shani Abeysekera who has been in police custody for 11 months will be released on bail today (16).
Justices Bandula Karunaratne and R.U.S. Gurusinghe heard submissions on Abeysekera’s revision application for bail on Tuesday (15) and will deliver their order at 10AM today.
Counsel Viran Corea appearing for SSP Abeysekera said that although bail can be granted in the case without reasons being cited in the High Court under the provisions of the Bail Act, the Court had denied the former CID Director bail. Bail was rejected for Abeysekera by the High Court despite lawyers for the senior police official providing two special reasons to do so, Counsel Corea said.
Counsel Corea also told court that although the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) was opposing Abeysekera’s release on the basis that former CID IP Nishantha Silva had fled the country, numerous assurances had been provided that the former CID Director would not leave the country under any circumstances.
Abeysekera’s lawyer said that the former CID Chief had suffered a heart attack and other ailments while in police custody and even contracted Covid-19 in prison. Medical experts had confirmed that Abeysekera’s life was in danger due to his health conditions, said Counsel Corea, submitting those reports in Court.
Making submissions on behalf of the Attorney General, Deputy Solicitor General Rohantha Abeysuriya opposed granting bail to Abeysekera on the basis that investigations into the case were incomplete. DSG Abeysuriya claimed that the police were still looking to obtain a statement from a woman known as “Sanjeewani” in connection with the investigation into allegations that Abeysekera “fabricated evidence” in the Mohamed Shiyam murder. A senior cop, Deputy Inspector General of Police Vass Gunawardena was convicted for the crime and sentenced to death in 2016.
Vass Gunawardena is a close associate of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Witnesses in his trial began to recant their testimonies in court, and claimed Shani Abeysekera had coerced them to implicate DIG Vass Gunewardena soon after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected president in 2019.
DSG Abeysuriya told Court on Tuesday (15) that “Sanjeewani” was overseas, and police had been unable to take a statement from the individual.
Counsel Viran Corea objected to this reasoning by the Attorney General’s Department.
The fact that an investigation was incomplete was not a reason to refrain from granting bail to a suspect, Counsel for Shani Abeysekera argued. It was unjust to remand a suspect for 10 months on the basis that the police had not yet been able to obtain a statement from a concerned party.
Counsel Corea cited the guiding principle of the Bail Act, which was that the granting of bail shall be regarded as the rule, and the refusal to grant bail, the exception. Therefore, Counsel for Abeysekera strongly argued that bail should be granted to the former CID Director.
Attorney at Law Chaminda Athukorala together with Attorney-at-Law Hafeel Farisz appeared for Sub-Inspector Sugath Mendis who was also arrested after he refused to implicate Abeysekera in the same case. Mendis has also filed a revision application in the Court of Appeal after his request for bail was also rejected by the Gampaha High Court.
Lawyers for Mendis explained that the only reason the sub-inspector had been arrested, was his failure to give evidence to the CCD implicating Shani Abeysekera. Counsel Athukorale said that SI Mendis had provided a statement to the Magistrate the very next day, regarding the pressure exerted on him by officers at the CCD to implicate Abeysekera.
Having heard submissions from all parties, the Court of Appeal announced that it would make its order on the bail matter at 10AM today. (Chinthaka De Silva)