ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka police have recorded 36 statements in connection with the death of a teenage domestic aide at former minister Rishad Bathuideen’s residence, with three of the MP’s family members to be produced in court Monday (26).
Police spokesman Senior Deputy Inspector General (SIDG) Ajith Rohana said Bathuideen’s wife, his brother-in-law, his father-in-law and one other suspect will be produced in the Colombo Magistrate Court Monday at the end of a 72-hour detention over incidents that came to light in the investigation into the teenage girl’s death.
MP Bathuideen is in Criminal Investigation Department (CID) custody himself, over alleged links to the perpetrators of the 2019 Easter bombings.
The 16-years-and-eight-months-old girl was admitted to the National Hospital with burn injuries on July 03 where she succumbed to the injuries on July 15. Police said her postmortem had revealed evidence of “chronic vaginal penetration”, though it did not elaborate.
Rohana said investigations have focused on what had caused the girl’s death, how she was subjected to alleged sexual abuse “as mentioned in the postmortem report” and into alleged reports of cruelty subjected to while working at the Bathuideen residence.
A person accused of recruiting the girl to the MP’s family was arrested last Friday (23), while the MP’s brother-in-law was also taken into custody for allegedly sexually abusing another domestic aide who had worked at the same residence from 2015 to 2019.
Commenting on various “opinions” expressed on the investigation, the police spokesman said: “Our intention is to carry out a sharp investigation. Information revealed when recording statements sometimes to lead to recording more statements.”
In a media release issued on Sunday (25), police said a statement could not be recorded from the 16-year-old victim when she was admitted to the hospital on July 03 due to her condition. According to the police press release, investigators had found burnt items in the deceased girl’s room at the Bathuideen residence. The items have been directed to the government analysis, police said.
Presenting facts pertaining to the case to courts on Saturday (24) Deputy Solicitor General Dileep Peiris said that the person who had helped recruit the 16-year-old girl to the former minister’s household had previously supplied 11 more girls to the former minister’s residence while the girls’ salaries had been credited to a bank account maintained by the person in Agarapathana in the Nuwara Eliya district
The victim’s mother, R Ranjani, in a press conference on July 20 rejected speculation of possible suicide by the girl.
“I asked from the madam (wife of Bathiudeen) and the PA of the house about this. They said my child might have caught fire when she tried to burn off a thread in her dress,” she said.
“She had come to the living room shouting for help while on fire. They had doused the fire using a carpet and put her in a fish tank in the house. They either did something to my child or some accident happened in that house,” the mother said.
Ranjani further said she accepts the blame for sending a minor to work and said many poor mothers make the same mistake.
“For that, I will accept any punishment given to me. Give some punishment for the people who did this crime too,” she said. (Colombo/Jul26/2021)