AFP – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court fined an award-winning woman police officer for illegally detaining and intimidating a teenage girl to frame a local politician for rape, officials said Friday.
Chief Inspector Waruni Bogahawatte was also ordered to pay 100,000 rupees ($570) as compensation to the victim while the state was also ordered to pay 50,000 rupees in the hearing earlier this week.
The 15-year-old girl was forced by Bogahawatte to undergo repeated medical examinations to establish
if she had been sexually attacked.
A three-judge bench held that Bogahawatte, who won the best woman officer award in 2017, had abused her authority and violated the girl’s fundamental rights and also intimidated her family.
Local media had hailed her at as a "super woman" chasing child abusers and sexual offenders.
The court heard that Bogahawatte repeatedly forced the girl from the southern town of Akuressa to make a false statement against a low-level politician who faced several unrelated rape allegations.
When the girl insisted she had not been raped or sexually molested by the politician, Bogahawatte had illegally detained her at Matara police station in 2012 and subjected her to four medical examinations which proved negative.
Bogahawatte also locked up the girl in a cell with an adult offender, violating rules in dealing with juveniles. The court felt that the girl, who cannot be identified by the media, had been treated as a perpetrator rather than a potential victim of a crime.
"This court also takes an opportunity to note with concern the increasing number of incidents of abuse of power by law enforcement authorities.
"There is no doubt that what is brought before courts is a fragment of the totality of incidents taking place across the country," the judges said Wednesday in their 24-page decision seen by AFP.
A senior police source told AFP they would immediately withdraw the awards given to Bogahawatte and she would also be subjected to an internal investigation and risked losing her job.
Another women’s organisation which granted her a "Top Career Woman" award in 2014 said it was reviewing the case.
The Supreme Court asked police to remind their staff of the need to protect the basic rights of individuals.