RI LANKA: Man rescuing his brother illegally arrested, detained and produced in Court on fabricated charges

RI LANKA: Man rescuing his brother illegally arrested, detained and produced in Court on fabricated charges

Picture: SAPS
AHRC Logo
June 6, 2017
Dear Friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information regarding Mr. Mutthuswamy Sathgunam, 47, of No: 2/2, Maberitenna, Digana, Rajawella, in Kandy District. Police Officers illegally arrested, detained and produced him before the Teledeniya Magistrate’s Court on fabricated charges. According to Sathgunam, the police officers conducted themselves in an unlawful manner to take revenge on him. The reason? He peacefully opposed his brother’s illegal arrest by the police. He demands justice for violations against his human rights.
Case Narrative:
 
Sathgunam is 47, married and the father of two sons aged 14, 12 and a daughter aged 6. He is the sole breadwinner of the family; his wife stays at home. He is a light vehicle driver working in Colombo, 160 kilometers away from his home. He comes home only on public holidays. His children study in a school in Teldeniya Town. Sathgunam has had a peaceful relationship with his neighbors. There is no record or complaint against him. He has not committed any crime or aided or abetted a crime. 

On 28th March 2017, Sathgunam was in his village home taking several days of his annual leave. He was enjoying being with his family members. At 10 am, his brother Calisstus asked him to go to the police station with him. He received a message to visit the Police Station with the Officer-in-Charge (OIC). No reason was given. As a result, he was afraid to appear before the OIC.

Then Sathgunam repeatedly questioned his brother for the reason for visiting the police station. He learned police had initiated an investigation on a complaint they received. It regarded the ownership of the lands distributed among the new settlers in the recently established village in the Maberitenna Estate.

Sathgunam was not inclined to go with his brother. He had no any connection with these re-settlements. He said that he owns his own land on which his house is built. It is in a definite place in the village outside the re-settlers land. He has no wish to join in these affairs. However, his brother’s mind is embedded with fear–even to enter a police station. The reason is that they belong to an ethnic minority community of Indian origin Tamil. His brother convinced him that he had never committed a crime or participated or abetted any crime.

Sathgunam understood his brother’s mentality even as came to his aid. He agreed to go to the Teldeniya Police Station with him. They reached the police station at 10.45am. His brother and his friend entered the police compound.

Sathgunam did not enter the police premises. He stayed outside. His brother as he entered the police station promised he would return soon.

Sathgunam waited for several hours. However, he did not return. After two hours, he decided to go to the police station and check on his brother’s fate. Sathgunam first talked to the police officer in the reception area and informed him that he is waiting for his brother who came to visit the OIC.

In return, the officer replied that they are already in the workplace of the Officer-in-Charge (OIC). Immediately the officer informed the OIC that the brother of one person is waiting for his release. The OIC asked Sathgunam to come to his office.

He asked for his name, religion and address, which Sathgunam provided. The OIC ordered another officer in his room to record these details. Sathgunam was not aware of the reason these details were recorded. He was asked to sit on a chair in his office. He was there for some time. Although Sathgunam explained that he came with his brother and no any connection to any police matter, the OIC did not pay any attention to him.

The OIC told Sathgunam that he is going to produce him before the Magistrate. Again no reason was provided. Sathgunam pleaded with the officer to release him. He is an innocent person working in Colombo and living in a peaceful manner. However, the OIC did not change his mind. Meanwhile, Sathgunam observed that the three-wheeler driver who brought them to the police station was also arrested and detained. And in the end, the OIC arrested and detained Sathgunam.

Sathgunam observed that the OIC was talking to a caller on the phone. He was later identified as a powerful, wealthy man, the estate manager in the area. This took place while he was in the process of arresting and detaining them. The OIC clearly related every step taken to the estate manager.

At 2:15 p.m., all the detainees were transported by jeep to the Teldeniya Magistrate’s Court and were produced in the Court. Sathgunam was not aware of the charges against him. He was informed at the Court that he had been granted bail and ordered to pay Rs. 5000 as a condition of the bail. As he could not provide the money, he was given a week to pay. He later learned that his case was postponed until 4 September 2017.

Sathgunam states that he had no criminal record or complaint against him. Despite this, the Police station’s OIC started a malevolent prosecution against him by illegally arresting and detaining him. He seeks justice for this illegal behavior.
Suggested Action:
Please send a letter to the authorities listed below and express your concern about this case. Please request an immediate investigation into the allegations of abuse of an innocent person by the Police, and the prosecution of those found responsible. The officers involved must be subject to internal investigations for breach of Police Departmental Orders.

Kindly request, that the National Police Commissioner and the Police Inspector General, open a special investigation into the malpractices of those officers who abused their powers. Please note that the AHRC has written a separate letter to the United Nations Chairperson of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in this regard.

To support this case, please click here: 
SAMPLE LETTER:
Dear ________,
SRI LANKA: Man rescuing his brother is illegally arrested, detained and produced in Court on fabricated charges

Name of Victims: Mr. Sathgunam Sandanaraja (47), No: 2/2, Maberitenna, Rajawella, Digana in Kandy District
Alleged perpetrators: OIC and officers attached to the Teldeniya Police Station
Date of incident: 28 March 2017

Place of incident: Teldeniya Police Division
According to the information I have received Mr. Sathgunam is 47, married and the father of two sons aged 14, 12 and a daughter aged 6. He is the sole breadwinner of the family; his wife stays at home. He is a light vehicle driver working in Colombo, 160 kilometers away from his home. He comes home only on public holidays. His children study in a school in Teldeniya Town. Sathgunam has had a peaceful relationship with his neighbors. There is no record or complaint against him. He has not committed any crime or aided or abetted a crime.
On 28th March 2017, Sathgunam was in his village home taking several days of his annual leave. He was enjoying being with his family members. At 10 am, his brother Calisstus asked him to go to the police station with him. He received a message to visit the Police Station with the Officer-in-Charge (OIC). No reason was given. As a result, he was afraid to appear before the OIC.
Then Sathgunam repeatedly questioned his brother for the reason for visiting the police station. He learned police had initiated an investigation on a complaint they received. It regarded the ownership of the lands distributed among the new settlers in the recently established village in the Maberitenna Estate.

Sathgunam was not inclined to go with his brother. He had no any connection with these re-settlements. He said that he owns his own land on which his house is built. It is in a definite place in the village outside the re-settlers land. He has no wish to join in these affairs. However, his brother’s mind is embedded with fear–even to enter a police station. The reason is that they belong to an ethnic minority community of Indian origin Tamil. His brother convinced him that he had never committed a crime or participated or abetted any crime.

Sathgunam understood his brother’s mentality even as came to his aid. He agreed to go to the Teldeniya Police Station with him. They reached the police station at 10.45am. His brother and his friend entered the police compound. Sathgunam did not enter the police premises. He stayed outside. His brother as he entered the police station promised he would return soon.

Sathgunam waited for several hours. However, he did not return. After two hours, he decided to go to the police station and check on his brother’s fate. Sathgunam first talked to the police officer in the reception area and informed him that he is waiting for his brother who came to visit the OIC.

In return, the officer replied that they are already in the workplace of the Officer-in-Charge (OIC). Immediately the officer informed the OIC that the brother of one person is waiting for his release. The OIC asked Sathgunam to come to his office.

He asked for his name, religion and address, which Sathgunam provided. The OIC ordered another officer in his room to record these details. Sathgunam was not aware of the reason these details were recorded. He was asked to sit on a chair in his office. He was there for some time. Although Sathgunam explained that he came with his brother and no any connection to any police matter, the OIC did not pay any attention to him.

The OIC told Sathgunam that he is going to produce him before the Magistrate. Again no reason was provided. Sathgunam pleaded with the officer to release him. He is an innocent person working in Colombo and living in a peaceful manner. However, the OIC did not change his mind. Meanwhile, Sathgunam observed that the three-wheeler driver who brought them to the police station was also arrested and detained. And in the end, the OIC arrested and detained Sathgunam.

Sathgunam observed that the OIC was talking to a caller on the phone. He was later identified as a powerful, wealthy man, the estate manager in the area. This took place while he was in the process of arresting and detaining them. The OIC clearly related every step taken to the estate manager.

At 2:15 p.m., all the detainees were transported by jeep to the Teldeniya Magistrate’s Court and were produced in the Court. Sathgunam was not aware of the charges against him. He was informed at the Court that he had been granted bail and ordered to pay Rs. 5000 as a condition of the bail. As he could not provide the money, he was given a week to pay. He later learned that his case was postponed until 4 September 2017.

Sathgunam states that he had no criminal record or complaint against him. Despite this, the Police station’s OIC started a malevolent prosecution against him by illegally arresting and detaining him. He seeks justice for this illegal behavior.
I request the intervention of your good offices to ensure that the authorities listed below open an immediate investigation. They need to look into the allegations of violations of fundamental rights of the victim by officers of the Sri Lanka Police Department. Any officers involved should be subject to an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental orders.
Yours sincerely,
———————
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. PujithJayasundara
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: igp@police.lk
2. Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC
Attorney General
Attorney General’s Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: ag@attorneygeneral.gov.lk
3. Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: npcgen@sltnet.lk or polcom@sltnet.lk
4. Secretary
Human Rights Commission
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: sechrc@sltnet.lk
Thank you.
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