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Magistrate orders probe as to whether journalist’s computer had been tampered with

ECONOMYNEXT – Colombo’s Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne yesterday June 16 ordered the Government Analyst to examine a laptop belonging to journalist Dharisha Bastians to see whether any data was entered or deleted between June 4 and June 10.

Jayaratne gave the order during the hearing into charges against a Sri Lankan employee of the Swiss Embassy in Colombo, Garnier Banister Francis that she sought to bring disrepute to the government by making false allegations against the state.

The CID, stated in court that on a search warrant issued on June 9, its officers searched the residence of Bastians, in Averihena in Narahenpita, and recovered the laptop in question.

This was contested by Bastians’s lawyer Shiraz Noordin who said that CID officers had entered the premises on June 4 and taken the laptop away without a warrant.

He also informed court that the CID officers had returned to the residence on June 9 and presented the search warrant to Bastians’s Father-in-Law Upali Indragupta and had him sign that the Police had now taken the laptop.

The attorney said therefore the police had the computer in their possession from June 4 to June 10 without a warrant.

Nurdin also informed court that as a journalist, Bastians was the former Editor of the Sunday Observer newspaper, her computer contains sensitive information.

The Magistrate thereafter ordered the Government Analyst to see whether the computer had been tampered with between June 4 and June 10.

The Magistrate noted that Bastians is not in the country at present and that the computer had been left behind with her father-in-law. She ordered that Indragupta be present in court at the next date.

The case against Francis has been instituted after she complained she had been accosted by five men near St Bridget’s Convent in Colombo in late November last year, sexually harassed and questioned about the visa issued to former CID Inspector Nishantha Silva.

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The Attorney General’s Department was represented by Attorney Janaka Bandara and the CID by Chief Inspector Kelum Karunaratne and Inspector Iqbal.

Francis was represented by Attorney Upul Kumarupperuma and others. (Colombo, June 17)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana