By Aanya Wipulasena
Addressing a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) this week, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) said there was no evidence to link Dr. Shafi with terrorist or extremist groups.
During the probe, CID Director SSP Shani Abeysekera said they had no intention of lying to the court, and if they had found evidence of one crime done by the accused doctor, they would have presented it during the hearing.
He also informed the PSC that Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Director Dr. Sarath Weerabandara’s conduct and his statement made during Dr. Shafi’s first hearing on June 27 at Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court has interrupted the investigations carried out by the CID with regard to the allegation that he carried out illegal sterilization surgeries on Sinhala mothers.
Dr. Weerabandara, a dentist by profession, addressing the courts said that carrying out of HSG tests would harm mothers. The tests were recommended to ascertain if women’s fallopian tubes were damaged by the doctor. His statement led to the ceasing the proposed tests being carried out.
Later, on orders of the court, arrangements were made at the Castle Street Hospital for Women and the De Soysa Maternity Hospital to carry out the tests.
SSP Abeysekara said the CID has collected data from 12 teaching hospitals and five private hospitals regarding the supposed serious complication of the HSG test, and they could not find any evidence of such complications or deaths of mothers who underwent the test.
However, SSP Abeysekara said that Dr. Weerabandara’s statements made during Dr. Shafi’s hearing were expunged from the court record. When they inquired the registrar regarding this, the stenographer said that the Magistrate Sampath Hewawasam had requested its omission. The second B report by the CID, on July 11, included this fact. The Magistrate has blamed the stenographer for removing Dr. Weerabandara’s statements.
Through the Inspector General of Police, the CID has lodged a complaint at the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to investigate into Dr. Weerabandara’s conduct in hindering the investigations.
An investigation is currently underway under section 183 of the Penal Code against Dr. Weerabandara for his attempts to obstruct the work of the investigators.
“During the probe, we took statements from 73 nurses and 7 to 9 specialist doctors who worked with Dr. Shafi during the caesarian process, and all of them did not say that they saw anything suspicious in Dr. Shafi’s work”, the Senior SP further said.
He also said they recorded complaints from 617 mothers who alleged they could not make babies after undergoing caesarian surgeries under Dr. Shafi, but only 143 actually anticipated pregnancies and could not conceive. They were encouraged to undergo the tests at Castle Street Hospital for Women and the De Soysa Maternity Hospital.
SSP Abeyseraka said a lawyer had asked the media if Shani Abeysekara and Ruwan Gunasekara were testing the fallopian tubes of mothers.
The SSP told the PSC that he is not a obstetrician or gynaecologist to conduct such tests, but after speaking to several professors and specialist doctors during Dr. Shafi’s probe, he has learnt about it. He said such insults made are in a way threats to the investigating bodies.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday (23) MP Ven. Athuraliye Ratana thera, accompanied by women who claimed to be victims of Dr. Shafi’s alleged illegal sterilization, marched to the Presidential Secretariat to hand over a petition to the President regarding the issue.