Shakthika to sue for Rs 20 million in damages: lawyer
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan fiction writer Shakthika Sakthumara, who was in pre-trial detention for months over a controversial short story, has sent notices of action against several parties demanding Rs 20 million in compensation, his lawyer said.
The writer has sent notices of action against the OIC of Polgahawela Police, the inspector general of police (IGP) and the attorney general for a cause of action of malicious prosecution, with the aforesaid sum as compensation, attorney-at-law Sanjaya Wilson Jayasekara told EconomyNext.
Jayasekara said the notices were sent to cover the damages done to the writer physically and mentally when he was illegally arrested and detained for 130 days.
Sathkumara expects to the file the case in the Kurunegala district courts within the next two months, Jayasekara said.
The author was arrested on April 1 2019 and was arbitrarily detained for 127 days while police conducted investigations into allegations that his short-story ‘Ardha’ (meaning ‘Half’) had hurt the religious sentiments of Buddhists and had therefore incited hate. He was also suspended from his job and for eight months had no income to support his family, Sathkumara said in a social media post.
He was discharged on February 9, days ahead of the ongoing United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva. Had he been charged and convicted, Sathkumara could have faced up to 10 years in prison as he was charged under Section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act and Art 291(B) of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka which deals with propagating hatred and incitement of racial or religious violence.
Despite the completion of their investigation on June 25 2019, Sathkumara was forced to wait another 18 months before the attorney general’s department released their decision.
Based on the AG’s report dated January 25 2021, Sathkumara was released from the Polgahawela Magistrate Court case on February 9 and proceedings of the case were concluded with no indictment.
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe (Colombo/Mar18/2021)