Loss of Thajudeen’s body parts: Ex-JMO Chief seeks SC to prevent his arrest

Saturday, 10 September 2016 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

 By S.S.Selvanayagam

The Supreme Court yesterday (9) fixed for mention on 23 September the fundamental rights petition filed by Ex- Chief Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo Prof. AnandaSamarasekera seeking the Supreme Court to prevent his arrest in connection with the alleged loss of body parts of  f1427b5a20c135c0a33c9c173a36cfc5_xllateWasimThajudeen. 

The Bench comprised Chief Justice K.Sripavan and Justice NalinPerera.

Petitioner cited Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine Secretary AnuraJayawickrama, Director General of Health DrP.G.Mahipala, Deputy Director General (Medical Services) Dr Lakshmi C.Somatunga, IGP, SSP B.R.S.R.Nagahamulla, Chief Inspector RavindraWimalasiri of the CID, Chief Judicial Medical Officer DrAjithTennakoon, Senior Lecturer Dr Jean Perera of Department of Legal Medicine & Toxicology, Addl JMO DrA.Hevage and the Attorney General as Respondents.

The Petitioner at present the Vice Chancellor of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM), Malabe states he was appointed as the Chief JMO of Colombo and the Head of the Institute of Legal Medicine & Toxicology in November 2007 and served in that capacity until his retirement in June 2013. 

He states that on 17 May, 2012, the office of the Institute of Legal Medicine & Toxicology received a charred body of an unknown person suspected to have died in a road traffic accident and the subsequent burning in the said vehicle. 

He states as per usual practice the said charred body was stored in the Mortuary and a postmortem was conducted by him and two other Assistant JMOs  and the process was assisted by minor staff A.V.R.Kularatne and S.A.D.Wimalasena. 

As a practice the removal of body parts for retention and preservation is conducted by the assisting minor staff members who are trained for such purposes and the medical practitioner provides the necessary tags with identification numbers and such items are preserved and stored in the refrigerators stored in the mortuary, he states. 

Any samples obtained for purposes of histology and/or toxicology are sent to the laboratory for such purposes and a receipt is obtained upon delivery and inventories in the laboratory, he states. 

The dissecting of the human remains, removal of bone and other body part, retention, rearrangement of the human remains, handing over of such remains to the relatives of the deceased persons are all handled by the minor staff, he states. 

He states that no necessity arose to reassess the body parts retained for further investigation so as per practice the said remains were stored in the freezer maintained for such purpose in the Mortuary. 

He states several months later in September 2012 whilst searching for another set of remains retained for review purposes, he distinctly recollects seeing the said remains of WasimThajudeen in the said freezer. 

The freezer unit and the cooler unit used for the purposes of storing retained remains of deceased persons, were constantly under repair and during his tenure, he made requests for the replacement of both units, however approval was only granted for the replacement of the cooler unit, he states. 

He states he is unaware as to when the said freezer unit was replaced, however, he states the said freezer unit was not replaced during his tenure of office.

 He laments that he is now made aware that the Magistrate on several occasions issued summons on him requiring him to submit the Post Mortem Report, however, he never received such summons issued by Court.

He states the cause of death in his opinion remained unchanged, in that, it  was determined by him as effects of head inquiry, injuries to lower limbs, thermal burns(due to fire) and probably carbon monoxide toxicity.  Consequent to an application made by the Chief Inspector RavindraWimalasiri, the OIC of the Murder Investigation Unit of the CID, the Additional Magistrate of Colombo ordered the exhumation of the body of late WasimThajudeen to conduct a second post mortem and during the said process it was discovered that several body parts of late WasimThajudeen have gone missing from the possession of the Institute of Legal Medicine & Toxicology which at the time was not under his supervision and control but under the supervision and control of Chief JMO DrAjithTennekoon, he states. 

He bemoans the said Chief JMO due to some animosity, is spreading false rumours about him and is likely to make allegations against him in order to cause disrepute to him.  He says he believes the body parts of late WasimThajudeen retained for further examination on his instructions and stored in the freezer may have been misplaced and/or lost and/or destroyed and/or discomposed during the transition of material to the new cooler during the tenure of new Chief JMO.  He is seeking a declaration from the Court that his fundamental right to equality as well as the freedom from arbitrary arrest have been infringed by the Respondents. 

Paliltha Fernando with Thisya Weragoda instructed by ThamilaDinushiPerera will support this application for granting of leave to proceed.