Colombo Additional Magistrate T.N. Ilangasinghe on Friday (19), ordered 16 suspects who were arrested and produced in Court, after being charged with conducting an anti-Government protest organised by the IUSF on 18 August, to be enlarged on a surety bail of Rs 500,000 each.
Out of 19 suspects arrested in connection with the said incident, 16 of them were produced in Court by Slave Island Police and they were subsequently granted bail.
IUSF Convener Wasantha Mudalige and two others were further remanded.
Following this, Additional Magistrate Ilangasinghe ordered the passport of suspect Jehan Appuhamy to be impounded, based on a request by the Police.
It was revealed in Court that during the course of the protest, Appuhamy had been arrested by the Police, but managed to flee from custody.
Slave Island Police informed the Court that Intelligence Units had reported to them that during the protest staged by the IUSF on 18 August the protesters had planned to forcibly enter the premises of the Presidential Secretariat and the Finance Ministry.
They told the Additional Magistrate that during the course of the protest, those engaged in it had hurled and pelted stones in the direction of the Police Officers at Lipton Circus. The Police pointed out that an ASP had ordered the protesters to end the demonstration peacefully, but the protesters had not heeded his instructions.
They stated that as the protesters had begun to behave violently towards its officers, they were compelled to arrest the suspects.
The Police explained further investigations were continuing into the incident and urged the Court to issue an order for the suspects to be further remanded, as the probe was still underway. President’s Counsels Saliya Pieris and Rienzie Arsekularatne looked into the interests of the suspects.
Pieris PC told the Additional Magistrate that his clients had been engaged in a peaceful protest near the Lipton Circus and at that time the Police Officers had proceeded from Slave Island to Union Place, after which they had begun to mercilessly assault the protesters for no apparent reason.
He added that though the prosecution had claimed that his clients had strived to forcibly enter the Presidential Secretariat premises, the Police had only arrested the protesters in Borella, Ward Place, and Narahenpita. The BASL President therefore charged that the Police had intentionally submitted spurious details to Court, with the aim of obtaining an order for the unjust incarceration of the protesters. He also opined that as per the Constitution, protesters or any citizen has been guaranteed the right to conduct peaceful protests and express dissent. Pieris PC observed it was clear at this juncture, that it was not his clients who have behaved violently and aggressively and that it was the Police which had done so. He then prayed the Court to issue an order for the release of his clients on any suitable bail conditions. The lawyer representing Appuhamy told the Court that his client had at no time fled from Police custody. He informed the Additional Magistrate that his client had gone to the Maradana Police to surrender, at which point he had been informed that there was no necessity for it. He stated afterwards the suspect had left the Maradana Police Station and insisted that his client was willing to appear in Court whenever noticed. Considering the submissions, the Court ordered to ban foreign travel of suspect Appuhamy. The Magistrate then ordered the suspects who were produced in Court to be released on bail. Further proceedings of the trial were then fixed for 12 September.
By Hansi Nanayakkara