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Lohan Ratwatte prison incidents: SLPP stands by ‘innocent until proven guilty by court’

Lohan Ratwatte prison incidents: SLPP stands by ‘innocent until proven guilty by court’

12 Jun 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) will not initiate any form of disciplinary action against State Minister of Plantation Industries and former State Minister of Prison Management and Prisoners’ Rehabilitation Lohan Ratwatte over the incident of the latter having forcibly entered the Welikada and Anuradhapura Prisons and intimidated several inmates in 2021 until the charges against him are proven through the relevant court proceedings, The Daily Morning learns.

A committee with the sole membership of former High Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena that investigated the incident, in its final report, has recommended that charges including those of attempted murder be filed against Ratwatte as per the provisions of several legal provisions, including the Penal Code.

The Daily Morning queried SLPP General Secretary and Government MP Attorney Sagara Kariyawasam as to whether the SLPP would initiate any form of disciplinary action against Ratwatte over the said incident, based on the said committee’s recommendations. 

In response, he said that the SLPP was not in a position to initiate such action as several practical issues may arise if they were to do so. 

“The first thing is whether there is a Police complaint about this incident. If there is no Police complaint or other forms of legal action regarding this, we, as a party, cannot initiate any action. That is because no one can initiate such action against a public representative on the basis of an investigation report alone. If a party does so by any chance, the relevant member can resort to legal action against the party. That is why there must be a legally acceptable basis. If the allegations against him are proven through the relevant court proceedings, we can act accordingly.” 

Kariyawasam also said that there were several practical issues that may arise if the SLPP was to initiate a disciplinary action against Ratwatte over the said incident. 

“If we are to initiate an inquiry, we will have to record statements from the relevant parties such as the relevant superintendents of the two prisons and prison inmates, and that is not something that a political party can do. If this was an incident of him having made a statement or something, we could have taken action easily by referring to the relevant video and audio recordings. However, the incident that has taken place inside prisons can only be explained by prison officials or inmates. We cannot call any of them for an inquiry.”


The Daily Morning exclusively reported in September, 2021, that an inebriated and pistol-brandishing Ratwatte had flown in a helicopter to the Anuradhapura Prison, where he had summoned a group of Tamil political prisoners detained under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act (reports state between eight to 16 such prisoners), ordered them to kneel, and proceeded to threaten two of them at point blank range. Prior to this incident, Ratwatte had, together with a group of friends, under the influence of liquor, forcibly entered the Welikada Prison premises after 6 p.m., and proceeded to view the gallows.


The report prepared by the Weerawardena-Committee, which was seen by The Daily Morning, mentions several crimes allegedly committed by Ratwatte for which there is credible evidence. Among them are: using a weapon in a prison [Prisons Ordinance] and using a weapon to commit an offence [Firearms Ordinance], and attempting to bring the State to disrepute, causing disaffection against the Government among its people, attempted murder, criminal intimidation by threatening to cause death, causing hurt, and causing hurt with a dangerous weapon, that are stipulated under the relevant provisions of the Penal Code. 



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