Habeas corpus application filed on behalf of lawyer arrested on allegations of links to Easter attacks

Saturday, 18 April 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S.S. Selvanayagam

A Habeas Corpus application was filed yesterday before the Court of Appeal on behalf of senior lawyer Hejaz Hisbullah, who has been arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over his alleged links to the Easter Sunday bombers. 

The petition was filed by his father, Naina Hizbullah, through Attorney-at-Law Gowry Shangary Thavarasha, seeking the Court to direct the Respondents to release and discharge lawyer Hejaz Hisbullah from custody/detention.

The Petitioner cited Acting IGP and the CID Director as well as the Attorney General as Respondents.

Petitioner challenges, inter alia, the alleged unlawful arrest and consequent detention of his son (believed to be arrested by and currently in the custody of the Criminal Investigations Department) and seeks a mandate discharging or releasing him from detention/custody.

He is seeking an Interim Order, directing the Respondents to release and or discharge the corpus Hejaz Hisbullah forthwith from detention/custody until the final determination.

He is asking the Court to direct the Respondents to permit Attorneys-at-Law access to obtain instructions from the corpus in confidence for the purpose of prosecuting his application and or any other proceedings before a court of law.

He is pleading the Court to grant him the costs of his Application, or in the circumstances of the case, grant him the exemplary costs at the Court’s discretion.

Petitioner states that, to the best of his knowledge, the Corpus served in his lawful capacity as an Attorney-at-Law in case No. DLM 05/10 and DSP 236/09, representing Mohomed Yusuf Mohomed Ibrahim.

He states that to the best of the Petitioners’ knowledge, the Corpus was trustee in the trust by the name of ‘Save the Pearls’. The said trust is dedicated to orphan welfare and or children who are deemed to be vulnerable.

He states that the Corpus had previously been questioned by officers of the CID and all times material he had duly placed all relevant facts before the said officers with regard to the discharge of his professional duties relating to Ibrahim.

He states the following took place on 14 April;

a) The Corpus had received a call at around 4 p.m., purportedly from a person identifying himself as from the Ministry of Health. The said person had asked the Corpus if he withdrew cash from a specific ATM machine, to which the Corpus had responded in the affirmative.

b) The Corpus was thereafter informed to stay at his house and to expect a visit from officials of the Ministry of Health.

c) The Corpus, his wife (an Egyptian national) and his mother-in-law accordingly stayed at home awaiting a visit from officials of the Ministry of Health.

d) Accordingly the Corpus and the family had verily believed that they had contracted COVID-19 from the ATM machine and or any other place, resulting in the said call and eventual visit

e) At around 5 p.m., five persons, including a woman, had arrived at the residence of the Corpus. The Corpus had thereafter been handcuffed and asked to sit on a sofa in the house.

f) The said persons had questioned the Corpus with regard to phone numbers. The persons had read out phone numbers and they had dialled the numbers from the phone of the Corpus, identifying certain numbers

g) During the questioning, one of the persons had received a call. He had proceeded out of the vicinity of the Corpus and returned. He, thereafter, had removed the handcuffs off the Corpus.

h) The said persons, thereafter, proceeded to the Law Chamber of the Corpus.

i) They had inter alia ordered the Corpus to give them access to the two case files of Ibrahim relating to two district court cases in which the Corpus had been retained by Ibrahim to appear on his behalf. The Corpus had duly obeyed the said orders and given the files to the persons.

j) The said persons had then recorded a short statement from the Corpus. His wife was ordered to place her signature on a statement written in Sinhalese, which she did.

k) The Corpus was then ordered to be present at the CID on 15 April.

l) Shortly thereafter one of the persons received a call. The said person had then informed the Corpus and his wife that the Corpus should accompany them to the CID.

m) One of the said persons accompanied the Corpus in his vehicle followed by another vehicle in which the other persons travelled.

n) At around 7:50 p.m., the Corpus had arrived at the house of one of his juniors, Chalana Perera.

o) Perera had got into the vehicle which the Corpus was driving and proceeded to the CID

p) Thereafter the Corpus, Perera, and the other persons had taken the Corpus to the fourth floor of the CID.

q) Following a period of waiting, the Corpus had been questioned for around half an hour.

r) Perera was thereafter informed by the Corpus that he was to be arrested.

s) No reason for his arrest was provided to the best of the Petitioner’s knowledge.

He states that the Corpus is a well-known advocate of civil and political rights, including highlighting the need for due recognition of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, especially Muslims, and has in recent times been vociferous in criticising the decision of the authorities to require the mandatory cremation of persons dying due to COVID-19, which is insensitive to the religious sentiments of the Muslims. 

He states that the said arrest and detention is mala fide and is calculated to penalise the Corpus for such activities and obstruct him from engaging in such activities