Sri Lanka magistrate in hot water over sterilisation probe
ECONOMYNEXT – Investigation into the alleged sterilisation of Buddhist mothers by a Muslim doctor in Kurunegala has taken a new turn with complaints of improper conduct of the magistrate hearing the case.
The police Criminal Investigations Department reported to the Kurunegala magistrate Sampath Hewawasam on July 11 that there was no evidence of surgical malpractice, but the doctors was nevertheless remanded for two more weeks.
Both the CID and the Attorney General noted that there was no grounds for them to continue holding Dr. Shafi who was arrested by the Kurunegala police on May 24 and held under a three-month detention order (DO).
The CID has since found that the magistrate Hewawasam has tampered with previous court proceedings and that his wife, Hiroshini Jayasinghe, was also a doctor at the same hospital and in a camp that had ganged up against Dr. Shafi.
It had also transpired that the hospital director, dentist Weera Bandara, is also an associate of the magistrate underscoring the conflict of interest. These matters have been raised officially in letters to the Judicial Service Commission which has disciplinary authority over magistrates.
The CID had earlier reported to the Kurunegala magistrate that two other doctors of the hospital were involved in a conspiracy to fabricate evidence, change dates of their testimony to show that Shafi was arrested after their statements.
In fact, CID found that Kurunegala Deputy Inspector General Kithsiri Jayalath was fishing for complaints two days after arresting Dr. Shafi. DIG Jayalath’s wife is also a doctor at the hospital and part of the group that is leading a campaign against Shafi, a surgeon who had built a successful private practice to the envy of many other colleagues.
Court was also told hospital director A. M. S. Weera Bandara along with two other doctors — anaesthetist Deepani Nandasena and surgeon Indika Senaratne colluded in fabricating evidence. Court records showed that both doctors had falsified their statements.
Dr. Shafi’s political affiliations had also played a key role. He was a UNP candidate from the Kurunegala district while the hospital director is a close associate of MP Wimal Weerawansa and a strong supporter of the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP).