Magistrate orders investigation into publicising “confessions” by children against arrested lawyer

Thursday, 2 July 2020 03:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Overrules defence on production of Hejaaz Hizbullah in court

Colombo Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake yesterday ordered Deputy Inspector General of Police (Western Province) T.M.W.D. Tennakoon to conduct a full investigation into how statements purportedly made ‘in camera’ (within chambers) by two children were leaked to media.

“It’s a very serious issue that this happened. How can statements recorded by me confidentially have been reported in the media?” he asked. The Magistrate said that had he been aware of such a leak, he would have recorded the statements in open court.

He said two statements from two children were recorded by him on 12 May 2020, and that the said statements were recorded under Section 127 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Magistrate Dissanayake pointed out the statements were taken within his chamber, and there was no way they could have been leaked to the media.

“This is of serious concern to the process of this court,” he said.

Defence Counsel Nawarathna Bandara PC pointed out that the said statements were “leaked by the CID because they had written them for the children.”

At least four children who had purportedly made “confessions” have filed Fundamental Rights applications before the Supreme Court, stating that they were coerced into making statements against Hizbullah.

When the case was called up yesterday to decide if Hizbullah should be produced before the Magistrate’s Court, the Magistrate held against the appeal, stating that there was no provision in the law to compel production of a person arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

He overruled the request of the defence, who called for the production of Hizbullah.

In his Order, the Magistrate stated that Hizbullah has not been named a suspect by the prosecution, and therefore production cannot be compelled.

Bandara pointed out that there has been absolute misreporting of facts that took place before the Magistrate’s Court earlier. He said that certain media outlets had distorted the entire proceedings before Court. The Magistrate ordered the media to ensure that true facts were reported to the public.

Two children of the Al Zuhuriya Arabic College had given two statements on 12 May 2020, and according to some media reports, they had stated that Hizbullah was the Principal of the school, and alleged he had given them training and lectures in arms and ammunition.

The defence challenged such statements as untrue and misleading. The case was postponed to 19 August 2020.