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Imminent threat of execution of Podi Lassi by Sri Lankan police: Attorney at Law Senaka Perera writes to UN

Image: Lawyer Senaka Perera and Podi Lassi’s mother Dihani Tanoja at the UN-Sri Lanka Office.

President of the Committee for Protecting Prisoners’ Rights Layer Senaka Perera has informed UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions that Arumahandige Janith Madushanka (alias Podi Lassie) is presently detained at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sri Lankan Police is facing a imminent threat of extra judiciary-execution.

The detention order expired on 16th December and his mother has expressed fears that once he will be handed over to a police unit, he could be killed in a fake encounter as happened to number of detainees in recent times.

The Letters sent by Lawyer Senaka Perera and Podi Lassi’s mother follows:

10 December 2021

To: Mr. Morris TIDBALL-BINZ, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

Imminent execution of person in custody of Sri Lankan police

Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka (alias Podi Lassie) is presently detained at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Sri Lankan Police, based on a Detention Order (DO) under the Prevention of Terrorism (Special Provisions) Act no. 48 of 1979 (As amended) since 16° October 2020.

According to his mother, he has been arrested around 2015 and is a suspect in several cases pending before various Magistrates Courts, related to murder, attempted murder, possession of Heroin and extortion while being armed with an offensive weapon. He has been granted bail, but has been remanded as he had not been able to fulfil bail conditions. He had been remanded at the Angunaukolapallassa prison, but on or around 15″ June 2020, had been transferred to the Boossa High Security prison. While there, he had participated in a protest to improve prison conditions. After this. he had been falsely accused by senior prison officials of threatening to kill them (the officials) and also the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense and the President. These accusations had received wide media publicity.

On 8th September 2020, police had reported to Galle Magistrate Court about alleged threats made by Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka and another named Tharaka Perera, alias Kosgoda Tharaka. Tharaka had subsequently been shot dead by police on 13″ May 2021, despite the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) informing the Inspector General of Police about an imminent threat the previous night’. On the 11 May 2021, Mabulage Dinith Melon Mabula alias Uru Juwa, a remand prisoner who was in remand prison with Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka in Boossa prison was also shot dead by the police”. He had given statements to the police that he had not heard Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka making threats to anyone as alleged by prison officials. In the early hours of 26’t November 2021, another person, named Tinkering Lasantha, was killed in police custody, despite appeals from the President of BASL, the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) and a Governor who is a presidential appointee”‘.

On 3rd  September 2020, Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka had sent a letter to the Commissioner General of Prisons indicating fears about threats to his life and urging steps to be taken to ensure his safety. His mother had also sent letters appealing for his safety to the President, Secretary to the Ministry of Defense, The Minister in charge of Prisons and to the Commissioner General of Prisons on the same day. His Grandmother had also sent a letter to the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission on 4t’ September 2020.

In a letter dated 30 November 2021 to the United Nations representative to Sri Lanka (Annex 1), the mother of Mr. Animahandige Janith Madushanka had stated that she has received information that Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka will be handed over to the crimes branch of the Peliyagoda police when the Detention Order  under which he is detained will expire on 16 December 2021. She had referred to several others who had been killed in police custody in recent past and expressed a reasonable fear of danger to her son’s life. She had further stated that she had realized it’s not useful to inform the HRCSI. or Police based on recent murder of Tinkerin Lasantha while in police custody.

As CPRP, we had also submitted a letter to the UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka on the 30 November 2021 (Annex 2), requesting to protect Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka’s life.

Senaka Perera, Attorney at Law.

 

 

 

 

COMMITTEE FOR PR0TE€ TING RICHTS OF PRISONERS
On 9t September 2021, the mother of WT. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka had filed a Fundamental Rights application at the Supreme Court (case no. SC FR 276/21) with herself as the ) “t petitioned and Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka as the 2“d petitioner (Annex3). She had alleged that the continued detention had violated Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka’s fundamental rights and demonstrates an ulterior motive that threatens his life. She had further stated that requests by her and a lawyer lo obtain permission for Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka to sign documents related to the above application had not received favorable response from the CID. Through a motion filed to the Supreme Court on 6“ December 2021, two lawyers representing Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka had alleged that when they visited Mr. .Arumahandige Janith Madushanka for a consultation while in detention on 3’d December 2021, a plot to assassinate Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka after handing him over to the Special Crimes branch of the Peliyagoda Police and / or Colombo Crimes Division and / or any other police unit
after the 15th December was revealed. ’the lawyers have alleged that the Assistant Superintendent of Police
(ASP) in charge of the CID where Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka is detained (and also a respondent in the Supreme Court case), had refused to allow the lawyers to have a confidential consultation with their client Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka in a manner that would have preserved attorney – client privileged conversation. 4 he lawyers had sought an urgent directive from the Supreme Court to have a legal consultation with Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka in a manner that will preserve attorney — client privilege.

A separate case had been filed by Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka in 2020 in the Court of Appeal about his safety after the killing of another suspect in policG custody’ . This was taken up on 7* December 2021, during which his counsel had pointed out that the DO under which Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka is presently detained expires on 15” December 2021 arid preparations are undeovay to hand over his client to the Special Investigation- Unit of the Peliyagoda Police’. The Counsel had also pointed out that information had come to light of an attempt on his client’s life while in police custody. The Attorney General’s department had informed court that the Inspector General of Police promised the court in May this year, to ensure the safety of Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka and that future steps with regard to Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka will be informed to court on the 13th December 2021,

On 8t December 2021, on behalf of Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka a lawyer tried to file a motion in Colombo Magistrate Court no. 8 in a case MW. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka is a suspect (no. 49545/8), but the Magistrate didn’t accept the motion and asked to file it on a Tuesday, as that’s the day allocated to hear cases related to the CID. The lawyer had made oral submissions about urgency of the matter highlighting potential threats to his client’s life in police custody, but the Magistrate had instructed the lawyer to file a complain with the police.

The mother of Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka had given us written mandate through an affidavit to do everything needed to protect her son’s life (Annex 4) and it is this context and also in public interest, that we as CPRP are writing to request ycu to make an urgent appeal to the Sri Lankan government and other measures to ensure the safety of Mr. Arumahandige Janith Madushanka.

Based or this, we also confirm thc consent for you and any other UN official to take up this matter with the Sri (.ankan government and to have this pubJished in subsequent repons by the UN,

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