Former CID Director Shani Abeysekera has suffered a sudden heart attack after he was transported to a special military run quarantine center in Polonnaruwa Colombo Telegraph learns, with doctors at the Welikanda Hospital recommending his urgent transport to Colombo for adequate treatment.
Local media reports quoted the Commissioner General of Prisons as saying Abeysekera has since been transferred to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Colombo following multiple appeals from opposition politicians, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the police official’s frantic and desperate family.
SSP Abeysekera reportedly tested positive for the corona virus earlier this week. His lawyers are pleading for bail in courts because the former CID chief suffers from several underlying conditions that have proved fatal for patients who contract COVID19.
The development about Shani Abeysekara’s deteriorating health condition came even as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa sought legal options on Friday (27) to hold the decorated Senior Superintendent of Police in jail instead of allowing his admission to a hospital for urgent medical care.
The Ministry of Defence is currently in consultations with the Attorney General and other officials about legal ways to hold Abeysekera in prison instead of allowing his treatment at a proper medical facility. Colombo Telegraph learns that the Government is mulling a Detention Order under the Prevention of Terrorism Act to keep Abeysekera in prison and out of hospital.
But pressure was mounting on the Government which was hoping to keep Abeysekera’s diagnosis and quarantine whereabouts concealed, to ensure the former CID director did not come to any danger while in state custody.
On Thursday (26) the HRCSL, responding to pleas from Abeysekera’s family and civil society organisations directed the Prisons Commissioner General to transfer the former CID director to the Welikanda Hospital for treatment from the army camp in which he was being held in quarantine.
On Friday, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa pleaded with the Government to ensure Abeysekera received medical attention on “humanitarian grounds”. Premadasa urged the authorities to transfer Abeysekera to the Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) in Rajagiriya as soon as possible.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is closely observing the developments pertaining to Abeysekera’s custody and transportation arrangements and the former CID director’s whereabouts in real time.
Since August 2020 former CID Director Shani Abeysekera has been in remand custody at the Mahara Prison, held on charges of planting firearms to fabricate evidence against ex Colombo Crimes Division DIG Vaas Gunewardane who was convicted of the 2013 murder of businessman Mohammed Shiyam in exchange for the princely sum of Rs 10 million. Vaas Gunewardane was sentenced to death by a High Court trial at bar for Shiyam’s murder. During the trial, the AG’s department revealed that the senior cop and his son had been running a contract killing squad, using subordinate officers attached to the CCD. As CID ASP Shani Abeysekera broke the case and gathered damning evidence against Gunewardane that led to a successful prosecution and conviction of the bent cop.
Six years after the investigation into Vaas Gunewardane’s crimes commenced, his subordinates have recanted statements provided to the CID claiming that Abeysekera coerced their testimony. However the firearms in question are yet to be produced as evidence in court, and several of the shot guns are registered to Vaas Gunewardane and signed out of the police armoury.
A decision on Abeysekera’s bail application will be made by the Gampaha High Court Judge Nimal Ranaweera on December 7, 2020. (By Chinthika de Silva)