408 days after his arrest, Attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah had the opportunity to speak to his mother and family at the Welikada Prison yesterday (27). A prison official said Hezbollah had been given the opportunity to speak via video call for about 15 minutes from 3.15pm yesterday evening.
Hejaaz Hizbullah who is also an attorney, was arrested by the CID on April 14, 2020, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). He was detained at the CID for about 10 months without being produced in court. Hizbullah’s lawyers have told the court that no reason were given when he was arrested.
Hizbullah was not even allowed to seek legal assistance until a few weeks after his arrest. His lawyers had to file a fundamental rights petition in that regard. At a press conference at that time, former police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne stated that Hizbullah was arrested due to the evidence found against him during the investigation into the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.
Later, it was alleged that the Qatari Charity which is an illegal body, had credited Hizbullah’s ‘Save the Pearl’ organizatiob with 13 million rupees for terrorist activities. The CID also initially said that the Qatar Charity is an organization that provide money to terrorists.
However, it was later revealed that the Qatar Charity is a charity registered with the National Secretariat for Non – Governmental Organizations of Sri Lanka under number FL162614 and had worked with the Sri Lankan Government on a number of occasions, but neither Hejaaz Hizbullah nor the organization he represented had received assistance from that organization.
However, in the end, Hizbullah has been produced before the court in connection with an incident involving children studying in a Madrassa school. Hizbullah has been accused of giving extremist speeches to a group of students studying at a madrassa school in Madurankuliya.
Four students have filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court through Attorney-at-Law Nuwan Bopage alleging that they were taken to the CID and pressured by the CID to give false testimonies against Hizbullah.
The attorney general had instructed on February 17, 2021, that Attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah be produced in court after being held in custody for nearly a year. Hizbullah was produced before the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court on the evening of February 18th. Hizbullah’s lawyers told the court that the CID had forcibly obtained statements from a group of children against him, but that Hizbullah had been produced to court only on the basis of a contradictory statement by one student.
Several parties, including Bar Association of Sri Lanka, local organizations and international organizations, have issued statements regarding his arrest. Hizbullah appeared for Election Commission member Dr. Ratnajeewan Hoole in the 2018 fundamental rights case against the dissolution of parliament. He is one of the most talked about lawyers in the field of human rights.