By Chandani Kirinde
In a dramatic turn of events, the Attorney General’s Department yesterday directed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to arrest and charge the female employee of the Swiss Embassy – who is at the centre of an alleged detention – under the penal code for inciting or attempting to incite disaffection against the State as well as for giving or fabricating false evidence.
The AG issued his directive based on examination of the B Report filed by the Police in connection with the alleged incident as well as initial inquiry reports which give rise to reasonable suspicion that the alleged detention of Garnier Banister Francis had not taken place.
Subsequently the employee was remanded until 30 December by the Colombo Magistrate’s Court last evening.
She was produced in Court by the CID and is to be charged with fabricating information and discrediting the Government.
In the letter addressed to the CID Director, the AG said that he had carefully examined the reports submitted by the Police on 14 December, along with the B Report, witness statements, CCTV footage reports, telephone records as well as reports by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) before issuing the directive.
“None of the evidence that has been gathered so far shows the alleged victim was either abducted, forcibly detained or subject to sexual molestation. In addition to this, the statements that were given by her have been contradictory and it points to her having deliberately falsified information and thus it is not possible to place faith in the statements,” the AG said.
The AG asserted that there was sufficient evidence to charge Francis under sections 120 and 190 of the Penal Code and to arrests her under section 32 (1) (a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act which allows the Police to arrest an individual without a warrant based on credible information received or on the existence of reasonable suspicion against the person.
The incident involving the Assistant Migration Officer at the Mission began on 25 November when she complained to the Swiss Embassy that that she had been allegedly detained against her will in a vehicle and threatened by a group of unidentified persons on the evening of 25 November.
The complaint by the embassy reached the Government on 27 November and after a standoff over a few days, with the Government demanding that the employee in question give a statement to the Police, the CID got a court order on 3 December imposing a travel ban on her as well as getting another court order forcing her to provide a statement by 9 December.
The CID recorded Francis’ first statement on 8 December and for five other days was also ordered to undergo an examination by a JMO and was subject to a psychiatric evaluation yesterday before she was placed under arrest.
The incident involving the local staffer led to heightened tension in diplomatic relations between the two countries with the Swiss Government issuing several démarches with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDAD) in Bern summoning Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Switzerland based in Berlin, Karunasena Hettiarachchi, to protest the alleged detention of its embassy employee.