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.
MyView / November 29, 2020
Dear Tassie – excellent exposition of the Shani case, and background.
Off the record, I know of your integrity, and loyalty to the Police Service you proudly served without fear and favour, and how you lived up to that College Motto, Esto Perpetua – Be thou forever.
However, your ideas are from the late fifties and the period of about 30 years following that. Since then the Police has degenerated to a level that if former top officers like Frank De Silva (later IGP) looks back, he will be in a total daze, unable to find even a semblance of what it was in the past.
As you said, in the current situation that Shani is placed in, even the Lord above will be at His wits end how to tackle such inhuman accusers, and to help him.
For some more on this fine officer (and gentleman) read Tassie’s book : Human Rights & Policing.
Plato / November 29, 2020
Tassie Seneviratne has always held a brief for Policeman who have been wronged.
Unfortunately , we do not find many of his kind.
I remember how he took up the case of those 600 odd Policeman, massacred by Karuna even after they surrendered; Karuna went on to be a deputy Minister in the pre 2015 Rajapakse Government. Notwithstanding the inherent danger in reigning in murderers, ,politically aligned to the Rajapakses, he fearlessly did his job. Plato salutes Shani.
hanchopancha / November 29, 2020
Dear Mr. Tassie Seneviratne.
Is there a Thing called an honest cop.?
Ferryman / November 29, 2020
No, in the present tense. There were in the past tense!!
leelagemalli / November 30, 2020
Why do you say like that.. ? There are honest police/CID men in SL but they may the minority. As I am listening to SL news now, I feel Ajith Rohana Police SPOKESMAN is highly biased to the current junta govt.
Please think twice before adding the kind of comments. Even if GMOA are filled with murderous medical doctors, there are also honest and highly dedicated medical doctors in srilanka. Also even if all is clear there majority of govt sector servants are abusive by every means, there are also at least 25% of servants that deliver their services to the top. This we had then and we have them today too. But today, there are no honest servants in sl.. that is not overlooked. That may be connected with cirminal behaviours of law makers.
See how abusive Mahinda Rajakashe and the like politicians have been. I dont have any respect to the kind of men and women in my home country.
Mallaiyuran / November 30, 2020
Is there a Thing called an honest cop.? The answer for that question is not pertain here. The question is did Shani planted evidences against Sajin Vas or his son, in the case of their murder trial of the Muslim trader.
I yet to see that somebody writing that those two fellow were not responsible for the murder. In that situation, even if Shani had planted evidence, it cannot change the end so it cannot be serious enough case to keep him in prison for months.
King has so far pardoned extreme criminals, even some of them were protested by INGOs from out of Lankawe. So why didn’t King discard the Shani role and free those thugs under presidential pardon? The matter is Shani punishment is the only act will vindicate your bosses, not Sajin Vas. That is the most important question here. Think about it, please.
Ferryman / November 30, 2020
Your own words……………..”.Is there a Thing called an honest cop.? The answer for that question is not pertain here. The question is did Shani planted evidences against Sajin Vas or his son, in the case of their murder trial of the Muslim trader.”…………
But then how do you reconcile your own statement later in this same thread …………
“with his “religious theories” like if a Tamil is beaten by a Sinhalese Buddhist, the Tamil better show the other cheek because Ferryman like to call him a Sinhala Buddhists and Sinhala Buddhists don’t make mistakes but only who call them as Sinhala Buddhists, are spewing venom?”…….
Are they not polar opposite statements ?
Well I rest my case that we should be more circumspect with what we comment in an esteemed Forum like CT.
My Meththa to you so you will not be carried away too much by ………..sorry to use your own word – venom…………
Rajan Hoole / November 29, 2020
With a view to coming to terms with the July 1983 violence I met or otherwise spoke to several police officers in the 1990s and was comforted to find that there were several good and fair-minded officers in the Force (Arrogance of Power, 2001). In order to write my small book after the Easter Bombing, I followed closely the work of Shani Abeysekera and Nishantha Silva and was very impressed. The silence or indifference regarding their fate damns the country.
Those now in power do not understand that to play with the integrity of the Police for their immediate ends is to play a very dangerous game. The major disaster let loose by SWRD Bandaranaike was not Sinhala Only, but to order the Police stand by, inert, when Tamil satyagrahis were beaten and humiliated of Galle Face Green during the debate on the infamous Bill in 1956, to please his dubious supporters like Mettananda. The Police were humiliated. Bandaranaike’s killers like Buddharakita likewise calculated on keeping the Police inert when the deed was done. By 1958, as Tassie Seneviratne’s article in the Sunday Times on DIG Sidney de Zoysa (9.2.2020) may give us reason to believe, a section of the Police was getting ready for a coup. This had no connection with Bandaranaike’s murder, but there were warnings (e.g. by Philip Gunawardena) and it could have been stopped. The investigation and case were botched up.
SJ / November 29, 2020
The Police has always been political.
The Police (CID really) maintained a file on every suspected ‘leftist’.
I understand from left sources that SWRDB stopped this happening on a routine basis; but the practice continued with those suspected on being subversives. ( I can name at least one.)
Mallaiyuran / November 29, 2020
So you decided Shani Abeyasekara is a Sinhala Buddhist against D.Silva’s blind assumptions that it was only judges politicizes the cases?
Is there Ferryman to defend you with his “religious theories” like if a Tamil is beaten by a Sinhalese Buddhist, the Tamil better show the other cheek because Ferryman like to call him a Sinhala Buddhists and Sinhala Buddhists don’t make mistakes but only who call them as Sinhala Buddhists, are spewing venom?
Ferryman / November 29, 2020
My first thought was to ignore an ungrammatical rambling meaningless comment but as it appeared to be a diatribe with me in the sights, perhaps very grudgingly and hesitantly, decided to say something.
The first sentence refers to a ‘you’. Wonder who ever mentioned Shani A as a SB, is not clear. And why even if he is ( I truly do now know whether he is S or B) what the relevance is, hereto.
Secondly Prof. Hoole mentioned IP Nishantha Silva, and it came to mind that my earlier assertion not to assign religion or race to anyone by name only, will be exemplified because IP NS said, “Yes, my father is Tamil. I’m proud of it!” – Nishantha Silva. His father was a Mr.Kandappa.
His “religious theories” meaning mine. I do not subscribe to theories but I follow Buddhist Philosophy devoid of any religion. Especially Mettha – loving-kindness towards all beings in the universe and even animals.
“ If Tamil is beaten by a Sinhalese Buddhist, the Tamil better show the other cheek because Ferryman like to call him a Sinhala Buddhists and Sinhala Buddhists don’t make mistakes but only who call them as Sinhala Buddhists, are spewing venom?” How this above convoluted crap came to be assigned to me, beats me.
Mallaiyuran / November 30, 2020
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Ferryman / November 29, 2020
This is nothing unusual. All countries (even those that shout about human rights and personal freedom) all have some state apparatus maintaining a personal watch in the name of national security. May be, some more, some less, but still it is the practice.
SJ / November 30, 2020
The point was that the Police was used to track/witch hunt the lef, notoriously under the UNP since independence.
There was some softening under SWRDB, but the practice continues in some form.
Sunil Abeyratne / November 30, 2020
Police certainly kept records on leftists – first hand evidence – just that this was in late sixties (JVP was active then).
leelagemalli / December 1, 2020
Mr Sunil Abeyratne,
Of course POLICE in a country should be exemplary by their services, however, if the people in general would NOT care much about the truths, what cant go wrong in such countries ?
I think you live in DOWN UNDER, may be well aware of the facts, how the POLICE services in that part of the world world. In Germany, where I live, police would not go beyond the laws. They dont care who is who, but if you for example drove faster in any areas where youa re not allowed, the fine is fine for each and every one. The financial institutes react on anyone bills are the same. If you woul dnot pay your fines, the authorities would not be backward to take away your DRIVING licence.
In srilanka, traffic police would not care much about the facts. I am telling you, that I too was charged with a fine, just becasue my driver used the wrong roundabout – due to lack of time reasons, we di dnot want to go to the place where the bugger POLICE man asked us to, however, my driver managed to leave the place by giving hima bribe. A man who is vehemently against bribes was caught by it without my knowledge on that.
justice / November 29, 2020
No woman will visit a police station alone, especially at night, to make a complaint.
UN rapporteurs have investigated & reported on ‘deaths in custody’ in police stations and prisons.
No complaint to the police will be investigated/stopped, unless there is an inducement.
Long ago, I was surprised to find that the Court Sargent in the Traffic Court was the same person who stopped, & confiscated my Driver License earlier for “speeding” when I was not, and told me when I went to court, to “put a motion through a proctor”, many times, which I did not; the magistrate accepted my plea and told me to ‘go home’.
Police in Sri Lanka favour politicians who can influence their future.
In civilised countries, no one needs to give a statement after arrest, without the presence of a lawyer. If he/she is unable to retain one, one is provided by the state.
Ajay / November 30, 2020
Sri Lankan police as an institution has sunk to such low levels that the public is afraid to go to the police station even when they’re under grave threat from criminals. Because people are wary of the power nexus that exists between criminals, politicians and the police. Things are so distorted, the police think their duty is to protect the powerful from the people and the law in return for immunity from accountability. Sri Lanka Police today is only a glorified security guard service for the governing politicians, their families and lackeys. Officers like Shani Abeysekara and Nishantha Silva are a threat to this cozy, mutual benefit, joint operation.
Mallaiyuran / November 30, 2020
Shani made a blunder. He saved Nishantha without any shield for him. Now the situation, Bernier is having Swiss embassy to keep an eye on her. Ranil had all CID investigation China Bribes burned. No proof let inside anywhere. Daily news got hold of these before these were burned. Dharishi and Wamadevan leaked it. America helped them to run away. NYT refused to release any details on the leak. So to revenge all these guys Appeh Aanduwa seeking a easy target. Unless a strong country or foreign NGO spend time on Shani, it is going to be hard for him. When Tamilini was in prison, some Tamils news media didn’t like anybody wring supporting her because Appeh Aanduwa will do all cruel things to her until she publicly deny them. You know the story of Dr. Varatharajan. Now he is a PhD doctor too. He was humiliated until he witnessed to media that hospitals were bombed by LTTE. I wish Shani had some kind of holds to save him, if thing go wrong. The UNP/SJB used him is not coming out, specially the the foxy Ranil.
chiv / November 30, 2020
Welcome” to disciplined, lawful and virtuous nation”. This is just a sample of what to expect in future . According to govt figures 17,000 recovered from Covid, but the numbers are obviously not matching, more than thousands are infected, Colombo city is under full blown outbreak/ community infection. The number of death keeps going up. And according to our govt this is just from the second wave of clusters.
chiv / November 30, 2020
I hear there is riots inside and Mahara prison and four are already shot head with many seriously injured. According to 20 A Shani was initially infected with Covid and further punished with heart attack.This is what 20 A suggest when a person refuse to toe the Rajapaksas line. Whoever it may me dose not matter as long you are not a part of the family dynasty. The nation and the people who desperately voted FULLY DESERVED this.
a14455 / November 30, 2020
Hmm I have a simple question.
Tassie has not heard the Ranjan tape? Is that how good investigators are supposed to work?
If that is the case then we have no hope ?
SarathP / November 30, 2020
This case will bankrupt Shani Abeysekera’s family. Could someone start a fund to help them?
Easton Scott / December 1, 2020
Luckily for Shani and us all who are in dire financial straits, there are some able, skilled and kind lawyers who would undertake such causes on a pro bono basis. I hope the same will prevail with Shani.
Buddhist1 / December 1, 2020
Today we have a new Minister in Charge of Police. In a TV show Truth with Chamuditha the new Minister has the audacity to declare “kanapita gahala hari policya hadanawa”. What a “Thug of a Minister” he is! When we have such Ministers in Charge of Police and CID one can imagine what they whole police force is going to be. We have already seen within days of this Minister being appointed in charge of Police 8 prison mates have been shot by STF. Sri Lanka under Gotabaya has become a Police/Military state.
Rajash / December 1, 2020
“Our last hope for this good officer is the Lord above. “
is there a Lord above Gota?
Ujitha1 / December 2, 2020
Interesting piece of writing. Let’s be very impartial and reveal what is exposed to the public of ‘Shani Abeysekera’ this former CID SSP whom the writer claims is a ‘victim of political vengeance’. The phone conversations reveled through mainstream media exposes Shani as a person who ‘fixed court cases’ through consultations with ex.high court judges and MPs. Mr.Tassie Seneviratne, is this a character of good police officer? Guide me on this matter.
hanchopancha / December 2, 2020
A lawyer I consulted who was recommended to me by VOC, to bring a private criminal charge because the police was part of the crime, consulted this law officer prior to accepting my case. I thought he was fully serious and really meant business. He wanted a sizable amount of money upfront before get cracking with the case. I paid him the full amount he demanded. He slithered out leaving me high and dry. Mr. Tassie did not answer my question.