A fundamental rights application has been filed in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on behalf of SSP Shani Abeysekera after the Gampaha High Court rejected his bail application after a week-long deliberation on Wednesday (9).
The former CID Director’s lawyers filed a petition in Supreme Court, calling on the highest court of the land to ensure his safety in custody and demanding compensation of Rs 3 million for his unlawful arrest and detention.
In the Fundamental Rights petition, Abeysekera’s lawyers said that his arrest was a violation of his rights guaranteed under Article 13 (1) and 12 (1) of the Constitution. The petition asks the court to direct the Inspector General of Police to provide SSP Abeysekera with adequate protection, specifying circumstances such as if he was taken out of remand prison quarters for investigations or any other purpose such as the recovery of weapons.
Several suspects in police custody have perished in “gun-fights” after being taken outside the prisons for the recovery of “weapons caches”. No independent inquiry is ever performed into these custodial deaths.
On Wednesday the Gampaha High Court struck another blow to the beleaguered former CID chief, when he dismissed SSP Abeysekera’s bail application.
In his 32-page order, Gampaha High Court Judge Nimal Ranaweera cited the “complexity” of the case and said that due to the position SSP Abeysekera held in the CID, it was difficult to determine the veracity of the claim by his lawyers that the former CID director would not intimidate witnesses and interfere in the investigations as his reasoning for denying bail.
Judge Ranaweera also noted in his order denying bail to SSP Abeysekera and SI Sugath Mendis who was also arrested in connection with the same charges that he had found that the AG’s request for more time for a scientific investigation into the complex case was justified.
Two witnesses in a murder trial against senior DIG Vaas Gunewardane, which resulted in a conviction and a death sentence for the top cop for the murder of a businessman in 2013 recanted their testimony six years later.
The witnesses accused Abeysekera and his officers of coercing their testimony to implicate Vaas Gunewardane. It is important to note that CCTV footage of the abduction of the businessman shortly before he was found dead in Colombo, showed Vaas Gunewardane’s son driving the vehicle used for the kidnapping. The recanting resulted in the hasty arrest of SSP Abeysekera who has been in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s crosshairs because of high profile criminal investigations led by his department since 2015-2019.
SSP Abeysekera tested positive for Covid-19 while in remand at the Mahara prison and has since been transferred to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Rajagiriya.
Medical reports submitted to the Gampaha High Court revealed that SSP Abeysekera had suffered a cardiac incident after he was initially transferred to a military-run quarantine facility in Welikanda, Polonnaruwa from the Mahara prison, where he was denied medical treatment from the Mahara Prison.