Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage made a historic order today (27) holding that the Prevention of Terrorism Act does not suspend the application of the Criminal Procedure Code.
In the order pronounced in open court today, Magistrate Liyanage stated that all provisions related to the investigation in the Criminal Procedure Code applies to persons arrested and held in Detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Quoting from the book Criminal Procedure Code by Professor G. L Peiris, the Magistrate said that all investigations into any offence comes under the Supervision and Control of the Magistrate.
Earlier, the Attorney General objected to submitting statements of witnesses to the Magistrate.
Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake issued an order on 19th August 2020, directing the CID to submit a comprehensive report on all statements made during the investigation into Hejaaz Hizbullah.
Hizbullah’s lawyers filed a motion to comply with the order after the attorney general objected that investigations under the Prevention of Terrorism Act are not subjected to the magistrate’s supervision. Hizbullah’s lawyers argued that the Code of Criminal Procedure would always apply if there are no contradictory provisions in the special laws.
Lawyers for Hizbullah pointed out that the Criminal Procedure Code applies at all times unless there is contrary provisions in special laws.
Citing a judgment of Supreme Court Judge Mark Fernando in the case Weerawansa against the Attorney General, the lawyers said that there are no contradictory provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Act regarding investigation and reporting before the Magistrate. Lawyers said Article 5 of the Criminal Procedure Code is very clear and that no person can violate the law.
The request for submitting all statements obtained during the investigations into Hizbullah, came after his lawyers pointed out that the Criminal Investigations Department were submitting partial facts to court, seeking media publicity. Lawyers said that the statements of all persons obtained during the investigation including the Teachers of Al-Zuhriya Arabic School and other members of Save the Pearls organisation would have aquitted Hizbullah of any wrong doing.
Citing a Supreme Court ruling, the magistrate said the defense minister’s detention order was only to investigate an offense committed by an individual and not to punish a person under arrest.
The CID was directed to submit a detailed report to the court on 24th February 2021, including all the statements made in court regarding the investigation into Hejaaz Hizbullah.
Earlier, CID officials had stated in a media conference that Hizbullah had provided terrorist training at an Arab college. Thereafter, two children made a confession before Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake on 12th May 2020. The details of those statements were reported in the media and newspapers on the same evening and the next day.
Hizbullah’s lawyers told the court that the only way to get a confession to the media was through the CID, and that they have in fact forced children to make those statements. Four children have filed fundamental rights petitions in the Supreme Court accusing the CID of coercion.
Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake said in open court that the CID had tried to show children, photographs of Hizbullah inside the cell. The former magistrate also ordered an inquiry into the manner in which the confession was given to the media
Presidents Counsel Nalinda Indathissa, Hafeel Farisz, Dhanushan Kaneshayogan and Kavindu Indathissa appeared for Hejaaz Hizbullah.