SJB Lawmaker Eran Wickremaratne has been subjected to a barrage of disinformation and attacks after he raised a voice against a dangerous incidence of custodial death targeting high profile suspects and witnesses in state custody.
The campaign of disinformation and mud-slinging comes days after Wickremaratne was interrogated for four hours by the CID on November 16 2020.
Social media and other sources well connected to the ruling regime have launched a campaign of disinformation claiming that Wickremaratne had admitted to paying Rs 5 million to the wife of Zahran Hashim had been paid Rs 5 million by Eran Wickremaratne. Strongly denying the claim, the SJB MP said that the malicious rumours were an attempt to discredit his work in fighting for justice and the rule of law.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner General of Prisons, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka has also raised concerns about the alarming trend of custodial deaths, echoing Wickremaratne’s calls.
The HRCSL requested the Commissioner General of Prisons to take immiedate steps to increase security measures relating to Fathima Hadiya, the wife of Easter Sunday bombing mastermind, Zahran Hashim after concerns were raised about her safety. The HRCSL letter was copied to the Minister of Health, the Army Chief Shavendra Silva and Health Services DG.
The Commission said that it had received “multiple complaints over the past 48 hours” alleging that Ms Sadiya’s (sic) life was at risk after she gave evidence at the PCoI on the Easter Attacks”.
This concern has been exacerbated by reports that Sadiya has suddenly been infected by the COVID-19 virus and been removed from Welikada Prison to a treatment facility in Welikanda, the letter noted.
HRCSL has requested the Commissioner General of Prisons to inform the Commission of Zahran’s wife’s whereabouts and the authority that is currently in charge of her health situation.
Wickremaratne meanwhile expressed concerns during a press conference on November 11, regarding the bizarre custodial deaths of key suspects and witnesses, citing the example of drug kingpin Makandure Madush who was recently “killed in a shootout with police” and concerns raised about the safety of Easter Sunday Mastermind Zahran Hashim’s wife after she revealed damning information before the presidential commission investigating the bombings. Wickremaratne cited the Colombo Telegraph news report regarding her coronavirus diagnosis and the concerns raised about her safety in light of information she had revealed to the commission in an in camera testimony.
Holding a press briefing Wickremaratne who is a parliamentarian for the main opposition and former state minister of finance, also said there were concerns being raised about safety of former CID Director Shani Abeysekera who has been in remand since August 2020 over his arrest and successful prosecution of former DIG Vaas Gunewardane.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the Easter Sunday Bombing investigation is being closely observed by several foreign governments, including India. Some of these foreign governments have communicated their own concerns about the safety of the witness and the importance of preserving Fathima Hadiya’s testimony to the Sri Lankan Government, Colombo Telegraph learns. Several foreign nationals lost their lives in the bombings and the Governments of the US, UK, Australia and others supported the investigation into the attacks, lending personnel and resources in the aftermath last year.
During his press conference Wickremaratne noted that it was strange that Madhush who had been in custody since May 2019 had suddenly lost his life. There were questions, the opposition MP noted, about whether the druglord had revealed information implicating powerful persons involved in his criminal enterprise, which had led to his death in custody. “Once he gets killed, his testimony is buried forever,” Eran Wickremaratne told journalists at the news briefing. (By Chinthika De Silva)