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Sri Lanka: Sexualy abused at 17, now 40 year old of mother called on to recall the incident for the 7th time!

22 years after a sexual abuse including rape, a woman testified at the Nuwaraeliya High Court last week regarding the incident she faced.

This is the seventh time she testified about the incident in court.

At the time of the incident she was 17 years old and  now a 40-year-old mother of three.

On or about the 12th of August 2001, the 17-year-old girl, a resident of Talawakele was coming home after from a church  when the  abduction and sexual abuse took place according the complaint.

The case has been filed against two defendants for abducting her by force and sexually  abusing her.

In 2004, after a non-summary trial on the complaint made in  2001, the Attorney General filed indictments in the Nuwaraeliya High Court.

The case was heard in the High Court for a period of 10 years. Nuwaraeliya High Court Judge E.W.M. Lalith Ekanayake announced his decision on 28 December 2015.

The two accused were found guilty of sexually  abusing the women. Both the accused were sentenced to 5 years hard labour for the first charge and 18 years hard labour for the second and third charges.

The two accused  went to the Court of Appeal against the decision. On the ground that the High Court case file did not state that before the trial the accused were asked whether the trial should be conducted in front of a jury or without, the Court of Appeal decided to
annul the judgment and the there should be retrial. Accordingly, the case was referred to the Nuwaraeliya High Court for a retrial.

Then the case was called on February 04, 2019. At that time, the judge who held the non-summary trial in the Magistrate’s Court 18 years ago has become the of the Nuwaraeliya High Court Judge.

As there could be a conflict of interest,  he requested the Chief Justice to appoint another judge to hear this case.

Accordingly, the case was called before Nuwaraeliya High Court Judge Darshika Wimalasiri on February 7, 2022. the victim was ready to give evidence again.  Although the dates for hearing the case were set on March 15, 16 and 24, 2022, the hearing was postponed again due to the covid epidemic and  transfer of judges.

However, the trial started again in March 2023 before Nuwaraeliya High Court Judge Viraj Weerasuriya. The victim woman testified before the High Court.

On 06th June, lawyer Nalin de Silva, who appeared for the first accused, started the cross-examination. The woman faced  cross-examination in Tamil with the help of an interpreter.

The further hearing was adjourned to July 25 and 26 of this year.

Within the period of 22 years, the woman in question has given evidence/statements about her ordeal  7 times.

Here are the instances:

1. First she had to  brief the police on the incident.

2. She also gave evidence in the non summary trial held in the Magistrate’s Court.

3./4./5. In relation to the case she has given evidence in the High Court  three times.

6/7. In addition, she has given evidence on the incident two occasions in the civil case of the District Court.

Accordingly, this is the 7th time she was testifying before a court. Along with the statement given to the police, it is the eighth time that she had to recall the incident she faced in front of others/courts.

A close relative of this woman, who is an important witness in this case, has died during this time.

Government lawyer Vasana Thisera appeared for the prosecution, while Lawyer Suren D. Perera appeared for the aggrieved party along with lawyer Madhava Eriyagama.

Sunanda Deshapriya.

( with the inputs from Sinhala article published in medialk.com)

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