The Homagama Magistrate yesterday observed that the Army Commander could be arrested and charge sheet filed if he does not cooperate with investigations into the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake made this observation consequent 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 has 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 have got stagnated 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 does not cooperate with the investigation in contravention to the Court order, the Army Commander could be arrested and charge sheeted under Section 185 of the Penal Code for disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant.
However, the SSC 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, Counsel for the fourth suspect requested permission of the Court to file an affidavit that the CID have 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that the detectives involved in the investigation were facing risks and their relatives have been warned that they be withdrawn from the ongoing investigations.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 SSC said the suspects had been detained on the orders of the Defence Secretary and all of them had been well treated in police custody and there is no need to pressurise her to make a statement. Taking into consideration the facts, Court refused to accept the affidavit as the production items of the case.
Meanwhile, six suspects including two Lieutenant Sergeants and three Sergeants arrested in connection with the disappearance of the journalist were ordered to be further remanded till January 25.
by Lakmal Sooriyagoda /CDN