By Tassie Seneviratne –
I am referring to the heinous political victimization being perpetrated on DIG Shani Abeysekara.
To make my points clear, I would first explain in brief the working of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of which I have been privy to, having had a stint there.
The CID only investigates complaints referred to it by the Inspector General of Police (IGP). Progress of the investigation is referred back to the IGP regularly and feed- back obtained. Correctly speaking, the IGP is responsible for all complaints referred by him to the CID.
Traditionally, CID investigations are handled by a team of investigation officers headed by a senior officer who plays the part of officer in charge (OIC) of the investigation. This is for purpose of co-ordination. Each individual officer in the team is only part of the team, and is not individually responsible. It is the team as a whole, and the DIG/CID and the IGP that is responsible.
The investigation team meets with the Director/CID regularly to discuss the progress of the investigation and further steps to be taken. Furthermore, the CID is in constant consultation and review by the Attorney General throughout the investigation.
Once the investigation is completed, the inquiry file is submitted to the Attorney General (AG), and it is the AG who decides whether evidence is sufficient to file indictment.
To cite a precedent, a case of the highest magnitude in recent memory, is the Parliament Bomb Case. The investigation team was led by S/DIG /CID Frank de Silva himself with crack investigators such as Rodney Aluvihare, Bennet Perera, Punchi Banda Seneviratne. The IGP Cyril Herath, kept himself briefed of all steps taken as well as to be taken, throughout the investigation. That’s not all, the investigation was reviewed by an Oversight Committee headed by eminent lawyer, H.W. Jayewardene, brother of incumbent President J.R.Jayewardene. Expert investigators were co-opted to this Oversight Committee.
In the case of Shani, he was projected and isolated by S/DIG/CID and the IGP who, breaking all traditions, abdicated their roles, playing a different game, keeping out of high-profile investigations in which the Rajapaksas were implicated. Thereby, Shani, who was only part of the investigation team has been singled out and exposed to the vengeful and vicious attacks on account of his not being partial towards the Rajapaksas.
In the police rank and file parlance, this game of playing safe is called ‘applying the Safe Ordinance’. ‘Esprit de corps’ that has been a strong point in the Police, seems to be a thing of the past.
Two to three years back, Shani was granted a special promotion by the National Police Commission, on the recommendation of the IGP, obviously for meriting such promotion. Special promotion in the Police is a long-standing practice, not only for recognizing special achievements of the officers so promoted, but also as encouragement to others.
Shani has been giving evidence before the Oversight Parliamentary and the Presidential Commissions of Inquiry in regard to the Easter Sunday bombings. Matters to the credit of Shani should have surfaced had the Oversight Commissions been as probing as the Oversight Committee in the Parliament Bomb case. Surely, the Easter Sunday Bombings are of such high magnitude that it should be afforded the same diligence as in the Parliament Bomb Case, and as competent an Oversight Committee. I am in no way underestimating members of the Parliamentary and Presidential Commissions of inquiry, but I beg to say that not all judicial officers are expert investigators, unless they have served in such capacity and made a mark earlier. My mind goes back to Senior State Counsel Kenneth Seneviratne in the nineteen seventies. He was called a ‘Blood Hound.’ There were others too; names of Ranjith Abeyasuriya and Bunty de Zoysa come to mind. But none of these expert investigators joined the Judicial Service which is a ‘calling’ to serve Lady Justicia. The Bar is much more lucrative. Of course, judges have the benefit of listening to legal arguments of learned counsel before passing judgement.
I have digressed a little to make the point that Shani has been denied of a fair opportunity to present his credentials before an Oversight Committee as competent as the aforementioned Oversight Committee in the Parliament Bomb case.
In the matter of the investigation into the into the Easter Sunday Bombings, His Eminence the Cardinal should initiate a similar competent Oversight Committee, lest he be accused of culpable omission.
As a result of his senior officers playing safe, Shani has been shamelessly sacrificed, and exposed to be targeted by political vengeance. Now, being culpably exposed to the Corona virus in the Covid-19 infested remand prison, and as surely as night follows day, he has contracted Covid-19 pandemic.
Our last hope for this good officer is the Lord above.
*The writer is a Retired Senior Superintendent of Police.