Final decision of the bail application by Former CID chief SSP Shani Abeysekera and sub inspector Sugath Mendis will be taken on December 7, Gampaha High Court Judge Nimal Ranaweera said yesterday (26).
It was ordered to consider granting bail to Mr. Abeysekera and Mr. Mendis, who have been in remand custody for about four months after considering lengthy submissions made by their lawyers and the Attorney General’s (AG) Department.
Appearing on behalf of the AG’s Department, Deputy Solicitor General Shanil Kularatne said that the AG is yet to receive the investigation file of the incident and that it would only be possible after the investigation to determine whether these witnesses were telling the truth or not.
When the bail application bearing 339/20 was called forth, facts were presented by the former Deputy Solicitor General of the AG’s Department, President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara with a group of lawyers, on behalf of Shani Abeysekera.
President’s Counsel Bandara: “The Attorney General’s Department might be happy today. Because the media has reported that the famous detective Shani Abeysekera has been diagnosed with Covid-19. Shani Abeysekara’s family still does not know about his condition. Earlier, when this bail application was called, we spoke at length about the conditions that Mr. Shani Abeysekera is having.
“When these were informed, the State Counsel took two weeks to obtain a report which could be obtained over the phone in one day, with no valid reason. This is what the Attorney General’s Department did when there was a serious threat to this person’s life.
“From the day these suspects were arrested we continued to ask the Magistrate’s Court to seek the assistance of the Attorney General. The Magistrate also asked on several occasions to seek the assistance of the Attorney General. However, the Attorney General’s Department has sent a Deputy Solicitor General to oppose the granting of bail, not even a State Counsel to the court case.
“The Attorney General’s Department has had a file related to this incident since 2014. Meanwhile, the police have arrested Shani Abeysekara without even the advice of the Attorney General. This happened on March 14, 2014. However, the complaint was lodged on 24/06/2020. Six years later.
“Article 12 of the Constitution states that the rule of law and the enforcement of the law must be equitable. The Attorney General’s Department usually makes objections or observations regarding bail. However, in this case, the Attorney General’s Department has surprisingly submitted only a report submitted by the OIC of the Colombo Crimes Division.
“The report submitted by the OIC of CCD has not even undergone a single change. Why did the Attorney General’s Department ask for more time to submit the police report as it is? Article 12 of the Constitution has been seriously violated.
“Who is the owner of the weapons in this case? The owner is former DIG, murderer Vass Gunawardena. Now, according to these reports, it is said that Vass Gunawardena’s weapons were taken from his house and taken to another place and taken into custody. If so, how can it be said that Shani Abeysekara was in possession of those weapons?
“Shani Abeysekara had reported this incident to the Attorney General in 2014. That file is still in the Attorney General’s Department. These weapons belong to DIG Vaas. Shani found these weapons according to a statement made by Villawarachchi who worked in Vaas’ office. Villawarachchi had provided the location where the weapons were kept. If this is true, he too should be arrested.
“When asked why he was not taken in, it was told that the Attorney General had not consulted to do so. They need the attorney general’s advice to arrest them. But they do not need the advice of the Attorney General to arrest Shani. The person who gave statements to Shani about weapons was not arrested. The law works in two different ways.
“Shani Abeysekera was the best detective in the police department. He was nicknamed Sherlock Holmes. According to his investigations, the Attorney General’s Department has prosecuted and convicted many people. If Shani had fabricated evidence, wouldn’t the Attorney General have caught them? Are they babies? Can’t identify false evidence? If so, the Attorney General who made this file should also be responsible for this.
“Shani appeared for the plaintiff in cases such as the Ekneligoda case. No one could buy Shani for money. So, an unjust case was filed against him for no absolute reason.
“It is said that there were various weapons. Three of them were shotguns issued by the police to Vass Gunawardena. According to police documents, those were released by the police. They are said to be Vaas’ weapons. If so, why wasn’t Vass brought here?
“When Sub Inspector Mendis was arrested and produced before the court, he gave a statement to the Magistrate stating that the Colombo Crimes Division had told him that he would be released if Shani was caught. They arrest the people they want. One rule for Shani. Another for Vaas. A respectable police officer named Shani is arrested and the files are sent only after that. In other cases, they are waiting for AG’s advice to arrest.
“It is said that Nishantha Silva fled the country, if Shani is granted bail he will also flee the country. Shani Abeysekara was brought in 30 times to get his assistance in various cases. Shani did not run away. He responded every time. He did not flee when transferred from the CID. A fundamental rights petition was filed against it. Shani is not an officer who would flee.
“Nishantha fleeing the country is not relevant here. He left before the complaint was lodged. He has received praise for Shani Abeysekara’s investigations. He has also received accolades from the Attorney General’s Department.
“Shani can’t be sued. That is why they have been handcuffed and taken to commissions and imprisoned him for holding shows. This is a black mark on the entire police department. An intimidation of the entire police force.
“Shani Abeysekara is currently suffering from several diseases. He has diabetes. There are other diseases. Now he is said to be infected with Covid-19. Shani Abeysekara’s life is in danger. It was reported that many of the people who died of Covid-19 had diabetes. His life is now in grave danger. Attorney General’s Department officials are not paid by politicians but people’s money.
“Normally the suspect should be produced to the court along with the case items. But these weapons have not been presented yet. They are having some entertainment by keeping Shani in remand custody as he cannot be charged. I request bail for these excellent police officer.”
Deputy Solicitor General Shanil Kularatne appeared for the Attorney General’s Department in the Gampaha High Court along with the State Counsel. He objected to granting bail to Shani Abeysekera.
Deputy Solicitor General Shanil Kularatne: “I object granting bail to this bail application. This President’s Counsel said personal things to the Attorney General’s Department.”
President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara: “I did not say personal things. I only spoke at an official level.”
Deputy Solicitor General Shanil Kularatne: “I protest against the statement made by the President’s Counsel. This case is just another case for the Attorney General’s Department. A few years ago, an investigation was carried out into a murder and a group including Vass Gunawardena was charged with murder.
“As part of that investigation, a stockpile of weapons was found. The Attorney General opened another file on it. Another file about the murder. Another file about weapons was opened. What is happening now was emerged while studying that file.
“Several persons made several statements before the Gampaha Magistrate. They said they were influenced and charged them with firearms and explosives and Shani and the officers created a false case. Those statements have been given on 2020/7/17 and 2020/7/21. Accordingly, several incidental facts arose out of these statements. Investigations are underway regarding these.
“I pay your attention to Section 15 of the bail application. Investigation notes have not yet been submitted to the Attorney General’s Department.
“According to the available evidence, some witnesses have said that a false case was created. We cannot conclude whether these people are telling the truth or the others are telling the truth. We can conclude that only after the investigation is over.
“It was said that the advice of the Attorney General was not taken for this investigation. How to get the Attorney General’s advice before the investigation is over? The essence of this case is that false evidence was fabricated. A case in which witnesses have been influenced to testify. Is it possible for the court to grant bail in such a case?
“Nishantha Silva, the suspect in connection with this investigation has fled the country. We have no idea how he managed to do that. Therefore, it is not appropriate to grant bail to the third suspect (Shani Abeysekera) in this case.”
The President’s Counsel said that the third suspect had a serious illness for a long time.
President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara: “Do not quote something that I did not say. I didn’t say that Shani Abeysekera has been ill ‘for a long time’.”
Deputy Solicitor General: “There are reports of these diseases after arrest and shortly before arrest.”
President’s Counsel: “If the old ones were submitted, you would have said that they are old reports and not new ones. Do not do shameless things.”
(Prior to the hearing of the petition, a bail application was filed in the High Court in which the suspect ‘s lawyer stated that the suspect was suffering from a medical condition and asked for bail. The lawyer protested against granting bail as the medical records were old. This is not something related to the case.)
Deputy Solicitor General: “Attention should be paid to Section 214 of the Bail Act. We interpret this as a non-bailable offense. Presented in accordance with the Oppressive Weapons Act and the Firearms Ordinance. The Fifth Schedule to the Code of Criminal Procedure provides for bailable and non-bailable offenses. If the sentence is more than three years, it is a non-bailable offense. Attention should be paid to the court case Anuruddha Ratwanatta vs. Attorney General.
“A suspect in this case (Nishantha Silva) has gone abroad. It is not known whether the suspect went by a boat or a plane.
“This is just another case for us. 55 officers of the Colombo Crimes Division have been infected with Covid-19 today. Investigations should be carried out in the midst of these obstacles. The main point in this case is that the evidence was fabricated. In my opinion, in the opinion of the Attorney General, it is not appropriate to grant bail in this situation. We should give the investigation unit a chance to investigate.”
Off the Record is about the CCD…
President’s Counsel: “What is off the record? Record. Record. shame.”
Deputy Solicitor General: “Article 13.2 of the Constitution states that detention or travel shall be restricted in accordance with the provisions of law. The law we are talking about here is bail. I object to the bail application under Sections 14.1 and 14.2 of the Bail Act.
“It was spoken about the Wickramasinghe case. In that case the suspect has been in remand custody for over two years. According to the law, a suspect can be remanded for one year till the end of the investigation. After that he can be remanded for another year at the request of the Attorney General. The case is about being remanded for more than two years. Investigation reports regarding this case have not been received yet.”
President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara: “The Deputy Solicitor General said that five witnesses had given evidence but did not say who they were. I’ll tell you who. Those who worked under the murderer Vass Gunawardena. That is why he avoided mentioning names.
“It is doubtful that a complaint is lodged late without a valid reason. In a rape case, even if the complaint is delayed for a few days, if there is no just cause for that delay, there is a doubt as to whether it is true or not.
“The file sent by Shani Abeysekara of the CID under OW 216/2014 regarding this incident is in the Attorney General’s Department. Is this how the Attorney General’s Department investigates?”
Deputy Solicitor General: Covid-19 formed for CCD
President’s Counsel: “Out of topic. Does anyone have to wait for the Attorney General’s advice until an investigation is completed? My educated friend says he does not know how Nishantha Silva went. Fair. Because there are no capable officers like Shani Abeysekera now. If it was Shani Abeysekara, he would have found it.
“The Bail Act states that granting bail is a rule and not granting bail is an exception. Look at the file in front of you to see if these things are true or false. The Attorney General’s Department stated that they have not found out how these weapons came to be. However, police reports continue to state that the owner of the weapons is Vass Gunawardena. What are these contradictions? Shani investigated Siam murder and sent DIG Vaas to jail. So, it is fair that they are angry with Shani.
“That is why the complaint is filed after six years. Those two cases are not two separate ones. It is a branch of a single case.”
Senior Counsel Chaminda Athukorala appeared with Attorney-at-Law Hafeel Faris and a group of lawyers for the bail application of Sub-Inspector Mendis 374/20.
Senior Attorney-at-Law Chaminda Athukorala has filed this bail application on behalf of Sugath Mendis, the suspect in the B1546/20 case in the Gampaha Magistrate’s Court. This is not the time to decide if there is any wrongdoing. The only decision here is whether bail is possible or not. I will explain how bail can be granted.
Section 2 of the Bail Act states that bail is a rule and non-bail is an exception. Article 14 provides for non-bailable reasons. A police officer named Mendis has been called to the Colombo Crimes Division while on leave and has received a police message. Once he reports for duty, the police provide it. Accordingly, he requested another date from the Colombo Crimes Division to go there.
Knowing that he would be arrested, he went to the Colombo Crimes Division. After he was arrested and produced before the court, he stated in a statement before the Magistrate that two officers from the Colombo Crimes Division had pressured him to give evidence against Shani Abeysekera. He stated before the Magistrate that he was told that he would be spared if he gave evidence against Shani Abeysekara.
He has been arrested and remanded for not making false statements against Shani Abeysekara.
They do not interfere with investigations. These witnesses came and lodged a complaint while they were in the police service. However, the case has not been reported to have had any effect on them. Now their work is suspended. There is no way to influence while suspended.
This statement was made in the seventh month of 2020 after Dias’ first statement about this incident. What did the CCD do for three months except killing the suspects in its custody? The Covid-19 issue came up on October 5th. The CCD has reported lies. The bail report has …..(Name unclear) that someone’s statement has to be recorded. But in the first B report she has made a statement.
Nishantha Silva left the country on November 23 or 24, 2019. This complaint came seven months after he left. After that there was plenty of time for these people to leave the country. They did not. They will not run away. Shani and Mendis are living proof of the fate of honest officers who live on wages without earning any money. Now there is no one to feed their wives and children. This is the fate of the officers who are sacrificing everything for their duty?”
Attorney at Law Chaminda Athukorala responded separately to all the objections raised by the Colombo Crimes Division against granting bail. Mr. Athukorala stated that not a single reason is an obstacle to grant bail.
Deputy Solicitor General: “The basis of this case is the fabrication of false evidence…”
President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara: “The basis of this case is the possession of firearms. That’s what Grave Crime is all about. Do not mislead the judiciary.”
Deputy Solicitor General: “We are opposing granting bail at this time.”
Gampaha High Court Judge Nimal Ranaweera stated that issuing bail will be decided on December 7 after considering the facts presented. President’s Counsel Wasantha Navaratne Bandara sought an order to admit Shani Abeysekera to the IDH Hospital in Colombo for treatment and the High Court Judge stated that he could not issue such an order due to health reasons.