News

Reverand Cyril Gamini files FR citing imminent arrest 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

National Catholic Social Communication Centre Director and St. Anne’s Church, Kurana Parish Priest Rev. Cyril Gamini Fernando yesterday (2) filed a fundamental rights (FR) petition in the Supreme Court (SC) seeking an order staying the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne and any other police officer from arresting him. 

Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the CID Special Unit Chief Inspector of Police (CI) Lalitha Dissanayake, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of the CID Rohan Premaratne, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) of the CID W. Thilakaratne, IGP Wickramaratne, State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Maj. Gen. Suresh Sallay, Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, and Attorney General (AG) President’s Counsel Sanjay Rajaratnam have been named as the respondents. 

In the application, Rev. Fr. Fernando has stated that he has been summoned to appear before the CID today (3) at 9.30 a.m. He was earlier issued summons to appear before the CID on 28 October, to record a statement regarding a complaint made by Maj. Gen. Sallay, and he (Fernando) then requested a week’s period to appear before the CID. 

He has further claimed that the purpose of CI Dissanayake, who is the first respondent, in sending a notice requesting him (Fernando) to appear before the CID on 28 October without disclosing the fact that he was being suspected of having committed serious offences, is not only for the purpose of recording a statement from him, but to also arrest him when he appears before the CID.

“The petitioner also believes that the purpose of CI Dissanayake in planning to arrest him (Fernando) is for the purpose of stifling the Catholic clergy and the public expressing their opinion on the Easter Sunday massacre (a series of bomb blasts that took place on 21 April 2019) and thereby preventing everyone from agitating for the truth behind the Easter Sunday terror attacks,” it added.

Fernando further claimed that he is ready to co-operate in whatever investigation CI Dissanayake may carry out as long as the latter or any other police officer does not make an unlawful arrest.

Claiming that there is a great likelihood of him being arrested when he appears before the CID today, Fernando said that there is an imminent danger of the FR guaranteed to him under Article 12 (1), Article 13 (1) and Article 14 (1) (a) of the Constitution, which deal with equality and equal protection of the law, freedom from arbitrary arrest, and freedom of speech and expression including publication, respectively, being infringed. 

“If the aforesaid stay order is not granted and if the petitioner is arrested by the above-mentioned first four respondents, or by any other police officer acting on the directions of the four said respondents, irreparable damage would be caused to the petitioner,” it further read.

A complaint was filed at the CID against Fernando and others who attended a recent online forum, by Sallay, on 25 October, requesting an investigation into an allegation made against him during the said forum that the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) terror group, which was behind the Easter Sunday terror attacks, was supported by the Intelligence services, including him (Sallay), who was the then Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) Director.

Accordingly, the CID informed the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court on 27 October that investigations would be initiated into the complaint, after which Colombo Chief Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala ordered the CID to commence the relevant investigation and inform the court of its progress.

During the said discussion between the Catholic church and a group of Sri Lankans living abroad last week, a presentation was made, which alleged that there is credible evidence that Salla and other Intelligence agencies had provided financial and other forms of support to the NTJ group, including its leader Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran alias Zahran Hashim, prior to 2015. Zahran was one of the suicide bombers at Shangri-La Colombo on 21 April 2019.