More fraud uncovered as judge remands Sri Lanka police officer

ECONOMYNEXT – The authorities have uncovered financial fraud at the Embilipitiya police as a magistrate remanded in custody the senior officer in charge of the station over the death of a 29-year-old man.

Embilipitiya additional magistrate Prasanna Fernando ordered that D. C. W. Dharmaratne, assistant superintendent of police, be held in custody till February 17.

The suspect was taken before courts ahead of the inquest proceedings into the death of Sumith Prasanna Jayawardena, 29,  who died after police stormed a party at Embilipitiya on January 4.

A senior police official at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) said they took the ASP into custody on Tuesday as a murder suspect and he was prodiced under section 296 of the penal code which refers to murder. He was also accused of assault, causing mischief and being a member of an unlawful assembly.

Ironically, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera had initially accused the revellers at a private home in Embilipitiya of being members of an “unlawful assembly” and “assaulting police.”

Both allegations proved false following an internal police investigation and police spokesman Gunasekera is now facing several allegations over his conduct and is likely to face court charges.

Following the incident, the entire police force at Embilipitiya was transferred to other stations in the region, but an investigation has found systematic financial fraud.

In one instance, the ASP had authorised the purchase of a chair for an officer of the station at a cost of nearly 100,000 rupees. There were also several other allegations which are now under investigation.

The failure of the police to detain ASP Dharmaratne soon after the magistrate ordered his immediate arrest last week was criticised even by government figures, including Telecom Minister Harin Fernando.

Official sources said a chief inspector and 22 constables of Embilipitiya police should also be arrested as their complicity had been established during investigations.

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Minister Fernando told reprters on Monday that he was surprised to learn that IGP N. K. Illangakoon had been dragging his feet.

In the meantime, the aggrieved party had filed two petitions in the court of appeal and the supreme court against the police.

"I will bring this to the notice of the prime minister and other senior ministers," Fernando told reporters in Colombo when questioned on why police did not arrest its own men while Yoshitha Rajapaksa had been arrested.

Fernando said the Embilipitiya incident showed that the police commission too had failed to inspire public confidence with its lackadaisical attitude towards dealing with abuses.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week slammed the media for giving wide coverage to the magistrate’s order to arrest police while allegedly playing down conduct of BBS monk Galagoda Aththai Gnanasara who caused a rumpus at another court.

IGP Illangakoon has denied allegations that he was protecting the officers because they had done personal favours for him when he was in the STF. (COLOMBO, Feb 3, 2016)

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