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Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake asks CID Officers to Leave His Chambers After They Tried to Show Photographs of Arrested Lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah To Children Prior to Recording Statements From Them; Identification Parade with 10 Child Witnesses Cancelled Due to Defence Lawyers Protesting Against Exercise to “Legitimise an Illegal Process.”

Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayaka said in open court that officers of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had attempted to show photographs of Hejaaz Hizbullah at his chambers prior to the recording of statements from two children.

When the matter was taken up before Dissanayake on 24 June, he told Hizbullah’s lawyers that prior to the recording of the statements from the two children, this attempt had been made: “I want to reveal this. The CID officers tried to show pictures and I had to tell them to leave the Chamber.”

Two children had made “voluntary statements” on 12 May to the Magistrate on camera regarding Hizbullah. An identification parade was to be held including Hizbullah with 10 children being summoned as witnesses to identify Hizbullah.

Nawarathna Bandara PC, appearing with Harshana Nanayakkara, Hafeel Farisz, and a team of lawyers for Hizbullah, strenuously objected to the identification parade. They told Court that the children had been coerced by the CID officers to identify Hizbullah, and the parade was a sham exercise to “legitimise an illegal process.”

They said that pictures of Hizbullah were paraded over media throughout with the alleged offences, and the holding of the parade in these circumstances was illegal.

Nuwan Bopage, appearing for three of the children who had filed Fundamental Rights applications before the Supreme Court alleging torture and coercion, said that the attempt by the CID to hold an identification parade was in order to have a defence in the Supreme Court.

Bopage said that the fact that the CID decided to suddenly make an application for a parade reeks of malice.

Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, appearing for the Attorney General’s Department asked Counsel for Hizbullah as to why they are objecting to the parade so vehemently.

In response, Nawarathna Bandara PC told Court that Section 18 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act has a provision in which the Parade could be admitted as evidence without cross-examination, and the reason for insisting on holding the parade was to use the provision.

Peiris also told court that the children who had filed Fundamental Rights applications alleging torture filed the Fundamental Rights petitions at the insistence of an “organised gang” in order to incriminate the CID.

Bopage, in response, said that it was he who visited the children’s house after receiving instructions of the illegal activities of the CID.

“I went there personally, and was present when they signed the affidavits and made complaints. Lies of this sort should not be perpetuated by the State,” he said. Having heard the submissions which took over two hours, Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake revoked his order and cancelled the holding of the Parade.

Courtesy:Daily FT