FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2011
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
SRI LANKA: Young Tamil complainant in a bribery case against a police officer faces attempts on his life and is in hiding
Devarathnam Yogendra ( 28 ) is the complainant in a bribery case against IP Wijesuriya of the Hatton Police Station, who has been indicted on a charge of obtaining bribes. This charge has been filed on the basis of a complaint made by Yogendra on November 6, 2010 and it is alleged that the police officer was arrested a decoy from the Bribery Commission immediately after accepting a bribe. Ever since the arrest of this police officer Devarathnam Yogendra has faced several attempts on his life, according to several complaints that he has made to the police, including the Inspector General of Police and also many other authorities including the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka. Yogendra has also complained that several fabricated charges have been filed, one of which was dismissed by the Magistrate on January 11, 2011. Another such case is scheduled to be taken up on March 1, 2011.
Four days after the first case was dismissed by the court Yogendra faced another threat to his life. Following are the details of this incident:
On January 15, 2011 on the Thai Pongal day morning around 01.30 a.m. about 5 police officers in police t-shirts had come to Yogendra’s house and woke him up and said that they needed to question him. When his father has asked the reason for his arrest, the police officers have said that there is a complaint against Yogendra and they need to question him. Then they have taken Yogendra walking towards a white van with tinted glasses and pushed him in to the van. It was not a police jeep. It happened to be a rainy day and there was noise of crackers being lighted to celebrate Pongal.
Inside the van he was blindfolded and handcuffed and they have taken him about 200 meters into a lonely place where there was a cemetery. When he was taken out of the van, the cloth that blindfolded him was removed and Yogendra was asked to kneel down. Then he was threaten and told that they would kill him if he acted against the police. Yogendra was then assaulted on his shoulders and his body and this stage Yogendra has identified a police officer by the name of sergeant Sarath. Yogendra told him that if he is killed that the whole world will know that the Hatton police officers had done it. Further he told, the police officer “you are Sergeant Sarath and I know you” at this stage police officers were drinking, laughing and making merry. After this they further assaulted him and took out a gun which they fired in the air. Then they have shown him the cemetery and said that he would be soon be there if he continued to act against the police officers. Having kept hi m for more than one hour he was threatened repeatedly. Then the handcuffs were removed and the officers left in the van.
Yogendra has collected 2 bullets casings from the ground and also a rain coat which was thrown out by him while he was in the van to prove that they were from Hatton police.
Yogendra is now afraid to go home and is now in hiding.
This is one more case of a person who is being hunted by the police due to complaints made by him to the Bribery Commission and other authorities. Sugath Nishanta Fernando from Negombo was assassinated after making complaints against the police regarding torture and bribery. At the time he was killed several police officers were being charged by the Bribery Commission and were also made respondents in a torture case. Earlier Gerard Perera, who was pursuing his complaint against torture by several officers from the Wattala Police Station was assassinated while he was traveling on a bus. A case is before the Negombo High Court relating to the murder of Gerard Perera in which the accused is a police officer and an accomplice who was earlier charged under the CAT Act, No. 22 of 1994 for torturing him.
Devarathnam Yogendra is now in hiding, afraid for his life. In a 53 minute taped interview he described to the Asian Human Rights Commission the series of attempts that were allegedly made on his life which he narrowly escaped.
The AHRC calls on the Inspector General of Police and the police authorities as well as the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka and the National Police Commission to investigate the complaints of Devarathnam Yogendra and also to provide him protection.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.