By T. Farook Thajudeen
Twist and turns were observed during the inquiry into the Inter-University Student Federation (IUSF) Convener Wasantha Mudalige’s case before an additional Magistrate of Colombo yesterday.
It was observed that while Presiding Magistrate of the case Tharanga Mahawatte of Court No. 8 of Colombo Chief Magistrate Court on the previous inquiry date had ordered the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) to file a report before court on their progress of the investigations and to submit court a summary report on the evidence of the witnesses.
However Deputy Solicitor General Deleepa Pieris yesterday appearing with the TID instead had moved the court to transfer the case from the present Magistrate Tharanga Mahawatte to another Magistrate.
DSG Deleepa Pieris said four investigating officers had submitted affidavits to the IGP alleging that the presiding Magistrate inquiring the case was favoring the defence, therefore to transfer the case before a suitable Magistrate.
The DSG also said that the Magistrate on 17 November 2022 had allegedly favoured the defence, according to the four affidavits.
Therefore the DSG pleaded to transfer the inquiry from the present Magistrate before another Magistrate.
President Counsel Saliya Pieris appearing with a team of lawyers for Wasantha Mudalige objected to transferring the case and told the Magistrate that this stance of the Police is to remand Wasantha Mudalige for a further period unlawfully and unethically.
Pieris underscored the fact that the Prosecution cannot make such a request from court under the Provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code or Under the Judicature Act.
PC Pieris said the police was attempting to keep the suspect in remand without any reasonable cause. He said if the Police wants to transfer the case from the Present Magistrate to some other Magistrate the Attorney General should make a request to transfer the case to another Magistrate to the Justice Ministry and the prosecution should act under section 45 and 47 of the Criminal Procedure Act or under the Judicature Act.
Counsel Saliya Pieris contended that instead of following the correct procedure the Police is violating the law unethically and unlawfully.
Consequently Magistrate Tharanga Mahawatte transferred the case before Chief Magistrate Pransanna Alwis.
Magistrate Prasanna Alwis reserved his order on granting bail to Wasantha Mudalige for 31 January and Mudalige was further remanded accordingly.
He has been remanded under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for the past five months.
On the previous inquiry date magistrate Tharanga Mahawatte ordered the Anti-Terrorism Division to speed up the investigations related to this incident. The Magistrate also ordered the Division to file a summary report of the evidence regarding the suspect Wasantha Mudalige before the court yesterday.
Mudalige was arrested by the police on 19 August 2022 and detained and interrogated for 90 days under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.