Specialist cardiologist nabbed in teen girl case
Police probe websites selling minors/women
By Dinitha Rathnayake
With the latest suspect arrested in the case of the sexual exploitation of a minor being a specialist doctor, reported to be a cardiologist, the Police are also investigating websites involved in selling underage girls and women for sexual exploitation.
The cardiologist in question was working at a hospital near Colombo and was arrested from the Bandaragama area on charges of procuring and statutory rape. He has been remanded till 19 July by the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court. According to news reports, he had met the victim at the Liberty Plaza building in Kollupitiya and had allegedly committed the offence against her in a hotel in Mount Lavinia. He is reported to hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander of the Navy.
It is also reported that the court had allowed the medical suspect to make a voluntary statement regarding the incident on 9 July. A 33-year-old procurer was also produced in court in this regard. Further, it was reported that the court had denied a request by the Police to ban four websites which published advertisements of women for prostitution on the grounds that it was the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) that is vested with the power to ban websites sans a court order.
Speaking to The Morning, Police Media Spokesman Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) Ajith Rohana said that five websites have been identified as being involved in this category and connected with sexually exploiting the 15-year-old girl in Mount Lavinia by advertising her online.
A total of 34 suspects have been arrested over the sale of the 15-year-old girl including former Maldivian State Minister for Finance and Treasury Mohamed Ashmalee and the doctor arrested in the Bandaragama area, who are accused of buying the girl online and abusing her.
Rohana said on 5 July that two suspects were arrested in connection with the website – www.lanka.ads.com – while on 4 July, the owner and financial controller of the website were also arrested. The four suspects were remanded till 16 July after being produced before the Hulftsdorp Magistrate’s Court. The owner of the website is a 45-year-old resident of Nalluruwa, Panadura, while the financial controller is a 43-year-old resident of Alubolanda, Mavittara, in Piliyandala. SDIG Rohana said that the arrests of these two suspects were made by the Cyber Crime Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Accordingly, 12 other suspects have been identified related to the case of exploiting the girl and further investigations are being carried out in order to ascertain evidence in this regard.
The spate of arrests follows the arrest of a man by the Mount Lavinia Police on 7 June over suspicion of having sold a 15-year-old girl via a website. The man was also charged with sexually assaulting the girl over the internet and was remanded after being produced before the Moratuwa Magistrate’s Court.
SDIG Rohana said that at the time, the girl had been sold to various people for Rs. 10,000, Rs. 15,000, and Rs. 30,000 each for about three months.
“According to the provisions of the Penal Code (Amendment) Act, No. 22 of 1995, procuring is an offence. Therefore, those arrested in connection with the incident will be charged under the relevant sections of the Penal Code.”
The investigation was later taken over by the Women and Children’s Bureau of the Police on the instructions of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Chandana D. Wickramaratne. SDIG Rohana also said that the CID was tasked with investigating the matter later.
Speaking further, he said that the suspects have been arrested on suspicion of preparing the relevant advertisement, transporting the girl, and abusing the girl. Among the suspects who were previously arrested are the victim’s mother, another woman, the person who prepared the advertisement, a three-wheeler driver, a car driver, a hotel manager, and 17 suspects who “purchased” the girl online including the Mihintale Pradeshiya Sabha Deputy Chairman, a leading gem businessman, a monk, a ship captain, and crew members, he added.