Shashika Nishamani Munasinghe, the widow of Sumith Prasanna Munasinghe (29) who died after a controversial fall from a three-storey building in Embilipitiya two weeks ago, during a clash with the police said yesterday that she seen her husband being pushed off the building.
Addressing a media briefing held in Maradana yesterday at which her daughter, mother and some of Sumith Prasanna’s relatives were also present, she said that they were not at all satisfied with the way the police investigations were conducted.
“My husband was never involved in any sort of crime, but he had a habit of speaking out against injustice irrespective of the status of those responsible for the injustice. Today I have lost him because of that.
“Attempts made by us to reveal what we saw that night have failed. The police ignored our revelations. There are many eye witnesses who are keen on giving statements to the police. But no statements from those who witnessed the incident were taken by the police during their so-called investigations,” she said.
She described what she witnessed as follows.
“At around 11.30 pm I heard a loud noise at the house party where my husband was helping the organisers. I came out of my house and ran towards that house. Several men were being beaten by men wielding batons. A police jeep was stopped in front. I ran here and there looking for my husband, despite my poor health. I found him arguing with some police officers. He was asking them not to break the law and to do their duty properly. I was afraid. I dragged him away and begged him to go home even if some injustice had been done. As we were leaving, the party organisers asked us to have dinner. Suddenly, some police officers came up and pointed my husband out to other police officers who were in plainclothes. They dragged my husband away by his collar. When I was clung to his hands, I was pushed away by the police. He was taken upstairs, then I heard the sound of glass breaking. I rushed upstairs and saw my husband being pushed out of the building. He was begging them not to beat him, but they paid no heed. Finally I found him on the floor in a pool of blood. No one offered to take him to hospital. Later he was taken to hospital in a three-wheeler but I lost him,” Sumith’s weeping wife said.
She said police had obstructed her when giving her statement at the DIG’s office in Ratnapura. She was suspicious of the conduct of the police and the manner in which officers of the Embilipitiya Police and the DIG’s office in Ratnapura recorded her complaint.
The impartiality of the ongoing investigations was doubtful, she said.
Meanwhile, Attorney at Law Vijitha G. Punchihewa, who is representing the victim’s relatives, asked the police to submit the police investigation report issued by DIG C.D. Wickramaratne on the death of Sumith Prasanna.
Social activist Udul Premaratne, who is also a lawyer, said they would take legal action against, “another funny and dramatic turn of events” — where Police Spokesman ASP Ruwan Gunasekara handled the witnesses on behalf of the police at the magisterial inquiry.
He said this had already destroyed their expectation of an impartial hearing.
(Piyumi Fonseka) DM
New evidence implicates ASP in Sri Lanka killing
ECONOMYNEXT – New evidence emerged today of the direct involvement of a police Assistant Superintendent (ASP) in the killing of a party goer at Embilipitiya in the worst case of police brutality under the new government.
CCTV footage from a nearby building identified several witnesses who have now ben questioned by police and their testimony has helped investigators draw a much clearer picture of what happened on January 4.
One witness told investigators this week how almost the entire police strength of the Embilipitiya police gathered outside what is known as the Mendis Building and were seen assaulting unarmed people with sticks.
Witnesses recounted how two men were mercilessly being beaten on the main road by police who eventually bundled them into a jeep while ASP Dharmaratne and HQI Dias remained inside the building.
“One of the policemen came running down the staircase to where I was standing with about eight or 10 constables,” the witness told a fresh police investigation this week. “He shouted saying ASP pushed one man down. He was smashed. He may have died.”
This testimony has been corroborated with other accounts of the incident while investigators have also found that police who initially went to break up the party had lied about what sparked the clashes and the subsequent events.
Witnesses have said about 100 to 150 people had gathered and watched the police action that led to the death of 29-year-old Sumith Prasanna Jayawardena.
Government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters on Thursday that the victim had been assaulted by the police because it appeared he had tried to resist the illegal police intrusion into a private party.
The minister said it appeared that the clash was a result of police demanding alcohol from the hosts of the party who could not provide the liquor that had been demanded of them.
The minister expressed the hope that the police commission would take appropriate action to restore people’s confidence in independent institutions.
Meanwhile, local journalists have organised a demonstration at Embilipitiya on Saturday to protest the police action of grabbing note books of reporters covering the inquest.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera had arranged a “witness” to clear the involvement of his colleague Dharmaratne who is accused of pushing Jayawardena to his death, but the latest evidence has torpedoed his plan.
A police headquarters source said with IGP Illangakoon being summoned to the Police Commission yesterday, the top officer has decided to change course and allow an independent investigation in the face of mounting opposition to his actions.
Illangakoon is accused by lawyers of trying to whitewash the Embilipitiya police, including ASP Dharmaratne who had been one of his own bodyguards when he served at the STF.
However, polic spokesman Gunasekera in a statement denied the allegations against Illangakoon. Gunasekera said the IGP had asked the Police Commission to cause an investigation into allegations against him. (COLOMBO, Jan 22, 2016)