Image: Gamini was tortured to death by Divulapitiya police, in WP, Sri Lanka. ( credit: FB)
Mr. Naiwala Appuhamilage Gamini Edwad (50) of Kelepitimulla, Hunumulla, Divulapitiya in the Gampaha District was married and the father of two children, a 12 year old daughter and an 8 year old son. He was a Watchman in the private home of a foreigner.
On 2 October 2017, Gamini was at home with his wife and two children. Two police officers attached to the Divulapitiya Police Station arrived at his house and inquired about Gamini. Gamini came to the front of the house and talked to the Police Officers asking for the reason of their search. The Officers informed him that he was to be arrested and ordered him to follow them. Gamini cordially informed the Officers that he has to take two children to school. He pleaded that the Officers consider him compassionately and provide an alternative solution. However, the Officers were rude to him, cuffed his hands and dragged him to the vehicle parked in front of the house. He was abused with obscene language in front of his wife and children.
He was brought directly to the Divulapitiya Police Station where questioning started. The arresting Officer, later identified as the Inspector of Police (IP) Saman Priyantha, the Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Crime Branch of the Police Station was the interrogator. Gamini was questioned about a theft in the house where he was working as a Watchman. He denied any involvement in this theft. The owner of the house was a foreigner. At this point, IP Saman started beating him with fists and kicks. Gamini was pressured to accept the fact that he stole property from his employer’s home. He vehemently denied the accusations. Later he was held over in a cell.
At night Gamini was again questioned by IP Saman and repeatedly pressured to accede to the accusations against him. Gamini refused to accept the accusations. A Police Officer beat Gamini in the face, stomach, legs and arms. A particularly strong strike hit Gamini’s head, causing an injury visible on autopsy. Gamini was hung from the ceiling and beaten and forced to admit the theft. He never accepted it.
On 3 October 2017, Gamini was produced before the Minuwangoda Magistrate Court. The lawyer representing Gamini very clearly explained to the Magistrate that his client had been severely tortured. He requested that he be released on bail considering his physical condition and the necessity of taking medical treatment. The lawyers request was not entertained by the Magistrate and he remanded Gamini until 10 October. Gamini was brought to the Negombo Remand Prison and assigned to Ward No: 2 of the prison.
As his physical condition worsened, Gamini was admitted to the Prison Hospital on the morning of 4 October. The Medical Doctors examined him and immediately transferred him to the Negombo General Hospital. On admission, he was pronounced dead at 10:40 p.m. While several relatives were trying to visit him at the prison they were obstructed and prevented by Prison Authorities from doing so. They stated that Gamini’s condition was serious so that he had to be kept in a restricted room inside the prison. Repeated requests by his relatives to see him were refused.
On 5 October, the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) of the hospital conducted the post-mortem examination. He informed the relatives and the Authorities that the cause of death was due to shock. Gamini sustained internal hemorrhaging as a result of the damage to his internal organs caused by the severe torture he suffered at the hands of the IP, OIC and other unnamed Police Officers.
The relatives held the position that Gamini was in good physical and mental health when he was arrested. He had no complaints of any ailments before his arrest. Responsible Police Officers have caused the death of their relative by beating him to death.
The Police Media Spokesperson’s communique revealed that an immediate Police Investigation had been conducted under the supervision of the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) Colombo North. As a result of the investigation, the OIC of the Crime Branch of the Divulapitiya Police Station, Saman Priyantha was arrested in the evening of 5 October 2017. The Acting OIC of the Police Station and other Police Constables were transferred to the Paliyagoda Police Station.
No details were produced on the complaint against Gamini that the Police received about a theft. No property had been produced before the Courts said to be stolen by the victim. Neither virtual complainant’s statements, nor any other evidence which revealed that Gamini had been involved in any crime, has not yet been submitted to the Court as evidence by the Police.
Gamini’s relatives maintain that he was extra-judicially killed by the Police. He was tortured to death. This is another example of a severely faulty Policing System in Sri Lanka. It murders innocent suspects under the guise of crime prevention.
(Edited version of a AHRC release).