|Pic by R.S. Lambert.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has begun collecting ‘scientific and technical’ evidence from phone calls which Minister Rishad Bathiudeen is alleged to have made to Mannar Magistrate and Additional District Judge Anthonipillai Judeson, threatening him to change a court order.
The Sunday Times learns that minister had called the judge’s mobile phone from his official phone listed in the parliament telephone index.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said details of the telephone conversation were being collected from the mobile service providers.
He said that in addition three police teams led by Assistant Superintendent G.M. Somaratne were in Vavuniya collecting evidence regarding the protest and attack on the court house.
Video evidence gathered from media personnel present at the scene when the attack took place helped the police to arrest 11 persons.
The protest and attack took place after the judge ruled that the status quo regarding the dispute should remain until the dispute was peacefully resolved. This was after police filed a case over the fishing dispute between two communities.
Judge Judeson in his complaint to the Judicial Services Commission said he received two threatening calls on July 17 and 18 from a person who identified himself at Minister Bathiudeen, warning him of repercussions if he did not reverse an earlier order over a fishing dispute. The caller also warned him he would face a worse situation in the future and wanted some of his supporters who were in custody released.The minister later met JSC secretary Manjula Tilakaratne and called for the transfer of the judge.
“Minister Bathiudeen met me and called for the judge’s transfer. I turned down the request on the grounds that transfers are a matter for the JSC,” Mr. Tilakaratne said.
Mr Bathiudeen told the Sunday Times yesterday he did not instigate the attack on the courts and he did not make any telephone calls to the judge.
“I was informed about the disturbances in Mannar when I was in Colombo. I called the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and asked for a helicopter to get to Mannar. There I held a meeting with the Government Agent and security forces officials to resolve the dispute. I never called the judge,” he said.
By Chris Kamalendran