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Sunday September 19th, 2021
Human Rights

Jailed Sri Lanka top detective Abeysekara makes first media appearance since release

Former CID Director Shani Abeysekara

ECONOMYNEXT – In his first remarks to the media following his release, Sri Lanka’s top detective Shani Abeysekera has told Al Jazeera that he did nothing wrong.

“The truth will prevail,” an Al Jazeera report on June 25 quoted Abeysekara as saying.  “I am an honest and hardworking officer. In my whole career, I didn’t do any wrongdoing, that’s all I can say.”

The report noted that appeared calm and confident, despite suffering a heart attack during his imprisonment, coupled with other health issues.

“People who live according to their conscience find that it’s not hard to face anything. They know that if they do something wrong, they have to face the punishment,” the network quoted him as saying.

“I won’t have to face punishment because I have not done any wrong.”

The 59-year-old former director of the Criminal Investigation Department was granted bail by the Court of Appeal on June 16 after over 10 months in remand custody on charges of fabricating evidence in a murder case against former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Vaas Gunawardena.

The Court of Appeal slammed police for using “concocted stories” to incarcerate their own top detective whose detention sparked a censure motion against Sri Lanka at the European parliament.

The two-judge bench in their 14-page judgement granting bail to Abeysekara noted a blatant attempt by the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) of the police to frame the former director of the CID.

Related: Appeal court slams Sri Lanka police for framing top detective

Abeysekara was arrested on July 31, 2020 by the CCD which accused him of introducing weapons to implicate former Deputy Inspector-General Vass Gunawardena, the main suspect in the 2013 murder of businessman Mohamed Siyam.

The court found that the weapons Abeysekara had discovered during his investigation into the Siyam murder were indeed traced to Vass Gunawardena who in fact had admitted to some of it in his dock statement.

The CCD had relied on the statements of Gunawardena’s co-conspirators in the 2013 murder of Siyam, but their testimony could not be trusted, the court of appeal said.

“The allegations against the suspect Shani Abeysekara are a result of falsification and embellishment and a creature of after-thought,” justice Bandula Karunathna said with justice R. Gurusinghe agreeing.

They also noted that the witnesses against Abeysekara had waited six years to make the allegation against him.

The European parliament adopted a resolution June 10 calling for the repeal of Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and inviting the European Union (EU) Commission to consider temporarily withdrawing Sri Lanka’s access to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) concession. The European parliament also expressed concern over the detention of Abeysekara, urging the Government of Sri Lanka to immediately give him and others detained a fair trial on valid charges and, if there are no charges, to release them unconditionally.

Related: EU parliament adopts resolution on Sri Lanka; wants PTA repealed, GSP+ withdrawn

The Al Jazeera report also quoted Justice Minister Ali Sabry as saying the Appeal Court order shows “exactly how strong our democracy and the rule of law is and how independent our judiciary is”.

“So I can be proud of the judiciary the way they have acted,” he said.

When asked about the court’s view that allegations against Abeysekara were false, Al Jazeera reported, Sabry had said: “The observation has to be taken into consideration by the police … As the justice minister, I don’t run the police.”

He had added that police should now “find out what is there and if there is sufficient proof of allegations, an inquiry has to be launched”.

Meanwhile police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana had told Al Jazeera that the police department “respects the order of the Court of Appeal and will take action accordingly if there are guidelines or recommendations (to be followed)”. (Colombo/June26/2021)

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