Image: Sri Lanka police known for its brutality against student protests.
The Colombo High Court today acquitted 21 former university student activists from 29 charges including unlawful assembly, causing injuries to police officers and charges under the Public Property Act, following a demonstration held in Colombo on October 14, 2010.
The Inter University Students’ Federation organised this protest outside the Ministry of Education demanding the release of a group of student activists attached to the Peradeniya University, who were imprisoned for booing the then Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake on a campus visit.
Several journalists who were covering the protest were also brutally attacked by the police and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had called for immediate disciplinary action against the police officers who assaulted a group of journalists covering the students’ protest. Police arrested 21 university students including then convenor of the Inter University Students’ Federation Udul Premarathne.
Subsequently, they were indicted by the Attorney General before the Colombo High Court. Taking into account the insufficient evidence against the accused, High Court Judge Damith Thotawatta decided to acquit them from all charges.
Counsel Newman Henry, Asanka Dissanayaka and Darshana Kuruppu appeared for the accused. The five journalists injured were Pradeep Dilrukshan from the Daily Mirror, Bingun Menaka Gamage of Lankadeepa, Sandaruwan Yatikinda of Neth FM, Chamila Karunaratna from Rivira and Subramaniyam Gunaratnam from Sirasa TV. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)
Original Caption: Court acquits 21 former student activists from a 2010 protest case / DM