Suspicious death of girl at Bathiudeen’s house: Two Police teams visit girl’s hometown

  • Record statements from Principal and Deputy Principal of school

By Buddhika Samaraweera and Pamodi Waravita

Two special Police teams, appointed to investigate into the death of the 16-year-old girl who was employed as a maid at Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen’s residence in Colombo, have gone to Dayagama, Hatton and Puwakpitiya area in Awissawella where the deceased girl had previously resided.

Speaking to the media yesterday (21), Police Media Spokesman Senior Deputy Inspector General (SDIG) of Police Ajith Rohana said that the officers of the two Police teams had recorded statements from several persons in connection with the incident, including the Principal and Deputy Principal of the Kiriwandala Tamil Vidyalaya in Puwakpitiya.

The two teams consist of officers from the Colombo South Crime Division and the Children and Women’s Bureau.

The girl who had been admitted to Ward 72 of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) on 3 July with burn injuries had died on 15 July while receiving treatment. On 16 July, the relevant Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), submitting the post-mortem report of the deceased, informed the Colombo Additional Magistrate Rajindra Jayasuriya that the victim had been seriously sexually abused for a lengthy period.

SDIG Rohana also said that the Borella Police had taken into custody the mobile phone of another person who worked at Bathiudeen’s house for further investigations. “The phone was referred to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on 20 July. We hope to investigate whether it contains any deleted or destroyed data,” he said.

In addition, SDIG Rohana said that a special inquiry would be conducted into the facts mentioned in the autopsy report of the deceased girl which has been submitted to the Court.

When contacted by The Morning, the Labour Department informed us that its officers would be visiting the girl’s parents to record a statement and obtain a copy of the birth certificate to clarify her age. “We consider a child labourer as a child who is employed when they are below the age of 16 years. In the case of this girl, the Police have informed us that the girl was 16 years and eight months old when she died. However, we need a copy of the birth certificate to clarify this and we also need clarity regarding when she started working at Bathiudeen’s residence. We are expecting our officers’ report on the girl’s date of birth (DoB), her parents’ statements, and when she commenced work at Bathiudeen’s tomorrow (23),” Labour Commissioner General Prabath Chandrakeerthi said.

Additional Magistrate Jayasuriya, on 19 July, ordered the relevant telephone companies to submit the telephone records of Bathiudeen’s wife to the Borella Police for further investigations into the incident while also ordering the relevant banks to submit the bank account records of the person who had brought the victim to Bathiudeen’s house to the Borella Police.

The Borella Police also informed the Court on 16 July that they are investigating whether the girl was sexually abused after coming to Bathiudeen’s house or whether it had taken place at a house where she was before arriving at Bathiudeen’s.

After considering the facts, the Additional Magistrate had, on 16 July, ordered that the body of the deceased be handed over to her brother while ordering the family of the girl and the family of Bathiudeen, for whom the girl worked, to appear before the Court on the next day.

The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) has also commenced an investigation into the death of the girl. Commenting on this, NCPA Chairman Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana had told the media that the NCPA hopes to investigate whether the child’s labour had been used illegally with regard to this incident.

The victim from Dayagama, who was working as a maid in the house of MP Bathiudeen in the Bauddhaloka Mawatha area of the Borella Police Division, was admitted to the NHSL on 3 July with burn injuries, and subsequently died on 15 July. Investigations have revealed that the girl was brought to the house in October 2020 and was 15 years and 11 months old when she was brought there. MP Bathiudeen, who was in the custody of the CID pending investigations into his alleged involvement in the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 2019, was hospitalised on 17 July over health reasons. He had been taken to the Outpatient Department of the NHSL. Upon being examined by doctors, he was admitted to the Emergency Treatment Unit (ETU) of the Hospital. He was arrested on 24 April and is being detained for 90 days by the CID under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act in connection with his alleged involvement in the Easter Sunday bombings.