Lawyer refused recording of affidavit by Prison authorities
By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
The Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners alleged that attempts made by them to obtain an affidavit from a prisoner detained at the Polonnaruwa Prison, who claims to be an eyewitness to the recent suspicious death of a suspect housed at the Mahara Prison, had been thwarted by the former Prison's authorities.
Chairman of the Committee, Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera had visited the Polonnaruwa Prison to obtain an affidavit from prisoner cum eyewitness to the incident Senarath Bandula Liyanarachchi, yet the authorities had declined stating that the Commissioner General of Prison's permission would be required for the purpose.
On 1 June, the parents of a Mahara Prison inmate who recently died under suspicious circumstances lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL). M.H. Sumanadasa Tissera, the father of M.H. Kavinda Isuru Tissera, 27, who died on 3 May while detained at the Mahara Prison, following what the Prison authorities claimed was due to injuries sustained from a fall from the Prison wall, after the inmate,
along with several others, had attempted to allegedly escape (further, the Prison authorities had described this group of inmates as being involved with drugs), lodged a complaint with the Commission, citing torture and the suspicious nature of his son's death. Sumanadasa Tissera was accompanied by his wife R.M. Karunawathie. The family suspects killing/murder.
The parents of the deceased further claim that their son, who had been arrested on suspicion of theft/robbery, had been without food and left to starve since 28 April until his demise on 3 May.
According to Sumanadasa Tissera and Karunawathie, Isuru Tissera had been severely beaten and his limbs had been broken (legs and hands fractured - left hand completely swollen), while there was also a wound on the back of the head (three inches in depth) which had bled profusely.
A Media briefing was convened in this regard yesterday (8), in Colombo and Perera, General Secretary of the Committee, Sudesh Nandimal Silva, wife of Liyanarachchi, Chamila Liyanarachchi, Sumanadasa Tissera, Karunawathie and human rights activist Ruki Fernando addressed the gathering.
Perera said, they would take legal action to go before the relevant Magistrate's Court, requesting that an order be given by the Court to the relevant Prison authorities to produce the eyewitness before Court, so that his testimony regarding the incident could be heard by the Court.
Chamila Liyanarachchi said, her husband had intimated to her that he had witnessed the assault of several prisoners detained in the same ward as the one in which he was housed in and that one of them had subsequently died. The date of 19 June has been given as the date on which the parents are to receive the final death certificate following the post-mortem and the inquest.
Despite several attempts, the Polonnaruwa Prison authorities were unavailable for comment.