AG tells IGP to arrest 22 if ‘reasonable suspicion’ exists

  • Johnston, Sanath Nishantha, SDIG Deshabandu, Dan Priyasad, Mahinda Kahandagama and others identified
  • Instructs to obtain open warrants on absconders
  • Tense situation as Police seek to block protest at Police HQ demanding attackers’ arrests

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Attorney General (AG) President’s Counsel (PC) Sanjay Rajaratnam has instructed Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne to arrest a total of 22 persons, including four MPs and a top cop, if reasonable suspicion exists regarding their involvement in the incident of peaceful protestors in front of the Temple Trees and at the Galle Face Green being attacked by a group of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Government supporters on 9 May.

Among the said 22 persons are SLPP MPs Johnston Fernando (former Minister), Sanath Nishantha Perera (former State Minister), Milan Jayathilaka, and Sanjeewa Edirimanna.

The list also includes Moratuwa Municipal Council Mayor Saman Lal Fernando, Senior Deputy Inspector General (SDIG) in charge of the Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon, Nawa Sinhale organisation National Organiser Dan Priyasad, Nalaka Wijesinghe alias “Satha”, Bandula Jayamanne, Dineth Geethaka, Araabi Wasantha, Subash of the Dehiwala Town Council, Amal Silva, Sameera Chaturanga Ariyaratne, Ruwanwelle Ramani, Thusitha Ranabhahu, Sajith Saranga, Mahinda Kahandagama, Pushpa Lal Kumarasinghe, Nishantha Mendis of Moratuwa, Pushpakumara (ex-Army), and Shavin Fernando of Wennappuwa.

In a letter dated yesterday (16), addressed to the IGP, the AG has mentioned the names of 22 persons as having involvement in the incidents of peaceful protestors at the “MynaGoGama” and “GotaGoGama” protest sites in front of the Temple Trees and at the Galle Face, respectively, being attacked by a group of SLPP supporters. He has stated that the said persons were identified to be involved in the incident upon careful consideration of the submissions made by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

“When the investigators identify reasons for their reasonable suspicion in identifying the suspects, they may be arrested as soon as possible and produced before Court in terms of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act, No. 15 of 1979 (as amended). If the investigators find out the non-availability of the identified suspects at the known addresses, prepare a further report setting out the evidence against each of the absconding suspects and move the relevant Magistrate to issue open warrants on the absconders. The investigators may also consider soliciting the assistance of the public to find out their whereabouts,” the letter further read.

Meanwhile, a tense situation arose yesterday (16) when the Police attempted to block a protest in front of the Police Headquarters (HQ) in Colombo Fort that was organised by the Socialist Youth Union (SYU), demanding the immediate arrest of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) supporters who attacked peaceful protestors in front of the Temple Trees and at the Galle Face Green on 9 May and the politicians who led them.

The SYU had organised a protest in front of the Colombo Fort Railway Station yesterday afternoon, demanding the immediate arrest of what they called “Government thugs” who attacked the peaceful protestors at the “MynaGoGama” and “GotaGoGama” protest sites in front of the Temple Trees and at the Galle Face Green, respectively, and the politicians who led the attackers.

Following the protest in front of the Railway Station, they marched towards the Police Headquarters, in front of which a group of police officers were stationed at the time.

Video footage showed a police officer among the said group of officers trying to prevent the protestors from approaching the Headquarters. At that time, a heated exchange of words took place between the protestors and the relevant officer. The crowd then began protesting in front of the Police Headquarters, holding various placards and chanting slogans.

Meanwhile, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Dr. Rajitha Senaratne also commented on the alleged failure of the Police to arrest the SLPP politicians, including former Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, and former Ministers Johnston Fernando and Pavithra Devi Wanniarachchi, who incited the SLPP supporters to attack the peaceful protestors, and those who carried out the attack. 

Recalling British scientist Isaac Newton’s theory that “every action has a reaction”, Dr. Senaratne said that due to the actions of Rajapaksa, other politicians, and the SLPP supporters, people in all parts of the country were driven to anger against those who “established a murderous culture of politics”. 

“Now, those involved in the ‘reaction’ are being arrested by the Police, but only one suspect has been arrested for the ‘action’. The Police say that they do not know them. They have now identified all those involved in the incidents in the country on 9 May, but they have not yet identified those who attacked the protestors on the same day. 

“It is surprising that the Police do not know Rajapaksa, Fernando, or Wanniarachchi, and those who delivered speeches at the Temple Trees on that day. However they know all the people involved in the other incidents. We ask Inspector General of Police Chandana D. Wickramaratne and the defence authorities to act decently. First arrest those who led the attacks and then the others,” said Dr. Senaratne.

Following a group of SLPP supporters who had come to meet then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa having subsequently attacked the said protest sites, scenes of violence erupted in several parts of the country on 9 May. After the said attacks, the buses and vehicles by which the SLPP supporters had reached Colombo on that day were smashed and set on fire by the people. Several SLPP supporters were also attacked by the people in Colombo and more than 200 who were injured during the clashes were admitted to the National Hospital of Colombo, including the SLPP supporters who carried out the attack on the protestors.

Since the day of the attack, several parties including the main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, other political parties, civil organisations, government, semi-government and private sector trade unions, and those engaged in protests demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, have been demanding the immediate arrest of the perpetrators of the attacks on the protestors.