It is common knowledge that there is a tug-of-war between the Army, the Attorney General’s Department and the Criminal investigations Department in the on-going investigation into the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.
There was a complaint from the investigators that the Army was not cooperating with the investigation.
When the case was taken up on Monday before the Homagama Magistrate, he said tough action could be taken against parties not cooperating with the CID investigation.
Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake made this observation consequent
The camp has not been taken over, but, two cupboards containing documents pertaining to an investigation have been sealed – Army spokesman
to a complaint by Senior State Counsel (SSC) Dileepa Peiris who appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.
SSC Peiris submitted to Court that the Army had not fully cooperated with the investigations into the incident and thereby the prosecutors were yet to receive vital administrative material pertaining to the investigations.
The SSC said the prosecutors were trying to get at this material since September 2015 and further informed Court that the documents sought had nothing to do with national security or national intelligence issues but army administrative ones.
He informed Court that the investigations were now stagnant due to the failure of the Army to submit these documents in Courts.
However, the legal officer who represented the Army told Court that they were cooperating with the investigations and informed Court that the Army submitted vital material last Saturday.
The Magistrate observed that if the Army did not cooperate with the investigation in contravention to the Court order, the responsible parties could be dealt with under Section 185 of the Penal Code for disobedience of an order duly promulgated by a public servant.
However, the state counsel moved Court that an order be re-issued on the Army Commander in person to submit a report in court in this regard on the next hearing date.
Meanwhile, in another interesting development, the counsel for the fourth suspect, a member of the Army Intelligence unit, requested permission of the Court to file an affidavit that the CID had pressurised the wife of his client to make a statement before the Magistrate.
However, the prosecutors objected to the move and informed Court that the detectives involved in the investigation were facing risks and their relatives have been warned that they be withdrawn from the ongoing investigations.
“They want to tarnish the detectives’ image and discourage them from conducting investigations,” the Senior State Counsel representing the AG’s department said.The SSC also added the suspects had been detained on the orders of the Defence Ministry Secretary and all of them had been well treated in police custody and there was no need to pressurize the wife of a suspect to make a statement.
Taking into consideration the facts, Court refused to accept the affidavit as a production item in the case.
A day after the hearing of the case, several print media institutions reported that the Girithale Army camp, the last known destination of journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, had been sealed.
The reports further said that the camp had been placed under the Military Police on the directive of the Army Commanders.
Nearly 12 hours after these news reports, Army Spokesman Brigadier Jayanath Jayaweera , convened a press conference in Colombo and cleared the air on the matter. The spokesman said the Army Camp has not been taken over.
“The camp has not been taken over, but, two cupboards containing documents pertaining to an investigation have been sealed,” he clarified. Jayaweera said it was only a part of the standard procedure in the Army. He added that no change has been made to any of the camp’s functions.
He added that a group of Army officers had gone there to find some documents pertaining to an investigation and those cupboards had been locked by the officers conducting the investigation.