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Justice is served for Shani Abeysekera – Shani is acquitted in the Vas Gunawardena case

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Gampaha Chief Magistrate Seelani Chaturanthi Perera released all the

suspects on the 25th of this month in the case, including Senior

Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekera, the former director of the

Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who was arrested a few days

before the 2020 general election by the Colombo Crimes Division (CCD)

and has been on bail for over 10 months.

Senior Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekera was arrested on July

31, 2020 by a group of CID officers attached to the Colombo Crimes

Division, alleging that he  has fabricated a fake case when

prosecuting the former DIG Ganendra Vas Gunawardena by substituting

firearms and explosives in the case related to a murder done by Vas

Gunawardene who was sentenced to death by a three panel judge in the

High Court

Following this two officers named Deputy Police Inspector Mohana

Mendis and Deputy Police Inspector Navaratne Premathilaka were also

arrested. Former sub-inspector Nishantha de Silva, who managed to

escape to in Switzerland was also named as a suspect in this case.

After the arrest of Mohana Mendis, the Colombo Crimes Division had

pressured Mohana Mendis to testify against Shani Abeysekara. In

relation to this case, Shani Abeysekera was remanded for 10 months and

18 days, Mohana Mendis for 10 months and 18 days, and Premathilake for

9 months and 19 days.

When this case was called for hearing today, Police Inspector Jagath

appeared on behalf of the Colombo Crime Division and informed that the

Attorney General has received instructions that the suspects in this

case can be released. However, on August 8, 2023, an appeal was made

through the Colombo Crimes Division to reconsider the notification

citing no instructions have been received so far.

Lawyer Chaminda Athukorala and lawyer Hafeel Faris, who appeared for

Shani Abeysekera, informed that the Colombo Crimes Division further

imprisoning these suspects in this case violates the law. The

Magistrate’s Court is bound to implement the Attorney General’s

instructions and that Shani Abeysekera and others have not committed

contract murders or extortion or rape, and a Deputy Inspector General

of Police has been investigated and arrested in connection with a

contract killing. That the DIG was sentenced to death after a fair

trial. The lawyers reiterated that these officials were arrested

because the incident was investigated by them.

Lawyer Chaminda Athukorala, who appeared for Shani Abeysekera in

court, also said:

“…The offenses reported by the Colombo Crimes Division in relation

to this case are indictable offences. This court only has the power to

assist the investigation in this regard. After this investigation, the

extracts related to the case were forwarded to the Attorney General.

The Attorney General’s Department has been perusing them for months.

It has been informed that there is not enough evidence to continue the

case against suspects 1, 2, 3 and 4. Accordingly, it has been stated

that no further action will be taken against the suspects and the

suspects can be released.

Also, regarding the granting of bail to Shani Abeysekera, I would like

to draw the attention of the court to the second paragraph of the

ninth page of the judgment of Kamani Abeysekera vs. Attorney General

CA/CPA/18/2022. It is clear that this is a fabricated case. Not even

an appeal was made against this decision. The Attorney General has

instructed the Colombo Crimes Division to release the accused after

looking into the matter. The Colombo Crimes Division has reported the

facts and says that the Attorney General’s advice has been requested

to be reconsidered. Does this court have the power not to implement

such instructions of the Attorney General?

Subsection 398.2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure reads:

(398.2 Under the provisions of this section, when the proceedings of a

case are sent to the Attorney General by a magistrate, the Attorney

General shall have the power to give such instructions as he deems

necessary in relation to the investigation related to the said

proceedings. After that, the instructions of the Attorney General

shall be implemented subject to the provisions of this code. It shall

also be the duty of the Magistrate to conduct and conclude that

inquiry in accordance with the rules)

Accordingly, this court is obliged to accept the advice of the

Attorney General. If the Attorney General’s instructions have been

received by the Authority, it is not possible to proceed with this

case in this Court. In a certain case, if the Attorney General has

been asked to file an indictment, an appeal has been sent to the

Attorney General asking him to consider it, no one has the legal right

to tell him not to take further steps according to the indictment

until he receives instructions. If the Attorney General has asked to

be released, an appeal has been submitted to reconsider the matter.

For that reason, no one has the legal right to say not to act

according to the instructions that have been received so far. Until

then, they cannot ask the police to continue the case without

releasing them. Colombo Crime Division is trying to mislead the

judicial process by acting maliciously as usual.

Lawyer Chaminda Athukorala, who presented the facts in court at

length, requested the release of the suspects accordingly.

After presenting the facts of the lawyers, Police Inspector Jagath

Nishantha of the Colombo Crime Division stated that the investigation

related to this investigation was completed and the file containing

the investigation excerpts was sent to the Attorney General.

Accordingly, the Attorney General has informed that the law will not

act against these suspects, and the suspects have been released from

this case, and then an appeal has been filed through the Police Legal

Division, requesting that the Colombo Crime Division once again

present the evidence against the suspects and reconsider the advice of

the Attorney General. Police Inspector Nishantha said that it was

referred to the Attorney General’s Department but so far, the Attorney

General has not received any instructions, he said. After sending the

instructions of the Attorney General in this case, the Magistrate

asked the Colombo Crimes Division whether the new investigation

excerpts were included in the request that was forwarded to the

Attorney General in addition to the excerpts related to the old

investigation. Police Inspector Jagath Nishantha, who replied said

that a new investigation was not conducted, and requested that the

excerpts from the original investigation be sent back to the Attorney

General and reconsidered.

After considering all these facts, the magistrate gave her decision

and stated that according to the instructions given by the Attorney

General, she decided to release all the suspects. The magistrate who

recorded her order at length citing the facts of the Criminal

Procedure Code, further stated that no facts have been presented in

this case that could prevent the Attorney General’s instructions from

being implemented. In giving her order, the Magistrate stated that the

Attorney General has not informed the court anything other than the

letter sent by the Attorney General regarding the release of the

suspects, and that the prosecution will not be prejudiced by the

release of the suspects. Accordingly, the suspects including Shani

Abeysekera were released from this case.

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