Ensure that justice is delivered to LTTE suspects who have been imprisoned for years without charge, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Namal Rajapaksa told the parliament today (22).
Rajapaksa said there is a large number of people in prisons even without a trial. He urged to look at these cases sympathetically and stated that he will be requesting the Minister of Justice to do the same. Samagi Jana Balawega MP Sarath Fonseka also stated that he also supports Namal Rajapaksa’s proposal.
Minister Rajapaksa – “There is a large number of young people in our judiciary and prisons who have not been able to obtain bail due to certain delays and have not been able to complete their cases. A large number of them have been remanded on suspicion of being LTTE terrorists for many years. You gave me the practical experience of the suffering of the imprisoned people in this country.
“There is a large number of people who are imprisoned without a trial. Among them are a large number of suspects, especially people suspected for being LTTE terrorists in the past. Accordingly, the number of convicts serving sentences after a long period of remand is 35. However, the majority of these 35 have been remanded far longer than their sentence.
That means they had been in remand prison for longer than the sentence they have been given. Also, there are 38 cases that have been remanded for a long time and charges have been filed in the High Courts. That means these cases have been pending for more than 20 years. These cases are still being heard while they are still in remand custody. Also, there are 13 people who have not been filed with any case.
Among them there are 116 who have not been indicted without filed complaints or completed their examinations. So, this is a large crowd. However, they have been remanded for many years. Either these people should be prosecuted fairly or their cases should be heard and punished or should be indicted.
Nearly 12,000 people were rehabilitated and reintegrated into society during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s tenure. Among them 3500 were given jobs in the Civil Defense Force. Government jobs. They were on the battlefield during the last days of the LTTE terrorists. But when we met many of these people in prison and talked to them, some of them have spent longer in prison than my age. This is the real story.
However, no charges have been filed until today. Therefore, I kindly draw your attention to the fact that there should be some justice for these people. Either these cases should be heard and concluded. Or these people need to be rehabilitated. If twelve thousand can be rehabilitated .. I will make a short speech .. An incident related to a prison in person…
He has been convicted on suspicion of murdering a Sri Lankan dignitary. His wrongdoing was cutting a branch of a tree. The person who cut down the tree is guilty and is in jail. The main suspect has apologized and gone home. The person who cut the tree branch is prisoned. The person who did the real work walks free. Therefore, I respectfully request that the The Minister of Justice will be present.. If it was possible to rehabilitate 12500 and recruit 3500 to the Civil Defense Force, please look at these people’s cases with sympathy.
However, the court cannot grant bail in accordance with the allegations made. I kindly request you, Hon. Minister, to do justice to these people through rehabilitation via the Attorney General or some other means.”
MP Rauf Hakeem – “I am pleased that Minister Namal Rajapaksa has raised this issue. In fact, while this damage in prisons is on the one hand, there is now a lot of injustice being done using the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Politicians are being hunted on one hand and innocents on the other. People like Hejaaz Hizbullah, have been without bail for a long time. Now cases have been filed. Evidence in that case has been fabricated and now facts are revealed in that regard.”
Minister of Justice – “We are acting in accordance with the criminal law in that case. Minister Namal Rajapaksa raised a very important question. We fully believe that as a government the criminal law should be enforced against someone according to the law.
When we look at a report, especially those who were involved in LTTE activities, as he said, have been detained for a long time on detention orders or under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and have been prosecuted but most of them have been detained.
We, nurtured by Buddhism and all other religions, are trying to resolve this issue, not to avenge. We are trying to find a solution to this. Therefore, we are trying to take this into full consideration and to see that justice is served. Racial and religious differences do not apply to us. We are all Sri Lankans. Let’s stop politicizing this. Let’s stop blaming each other and come to a methodology.
Let’s not point fingers here and there. There has been a mistake. These cases should be heard and completed as soon as possible. We are making arrangements for that. I had discussions with the Hon. Attorney General. Accordingly, we hope to find a way to expedite those trials. If not prosecuted, they cannot be held under custody for a long time.
We thoroughly believe that either they should be prosecuted or released. It’s the same for everyone. That is the path we are working on. We will see to it that we do not limit ourselves to mere talk and act fairly.”
MP Sarath Fonseka – “I also give some strength to the proposal brought by Minister Namal Rajapaksa with a little background. I justify it. I remember, I was taken to Welikada Prison on 30th September 2010. I was taken inside at 12.00 and I was brought back to the gate. There were Tamil youths loaded in a bus.
One young man shouted in broken Sinhala and said that the Army Commander who had ended the war was coming into Welikada and that we who had fought in the war would be taken out. Then those are the young people you are talking about. From there I came to court from Welikada for cases. I was sitting on a bench. Sitting on the same bench was a young man who carried out a suicide bombing attack on me.
That young man, Morris, came and sat to my left. The bombing in April 2006 was 15 years ago. The young man was caught about a year later. He is still in remand. His case has not been called yet. We fully agree with what you said. Even though I was attacked like that, I think justice should be served. I think it is enough punishment for those young men who stayed in prison for 15 years. We bless your motives and will provide my assistance.”