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Suspects Die In Police Custody

By Binoy Suriyaarachchi

The mysterious death of cop killer suspect, Kahandawala Arachchige Tharuka Nilan (32), who died last Sunday (18) while in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), is the latest addition to a long list of deaths in police custody.

The police announced on the same day that the notorious suspect wanted by police for many criminal activities was killed in a confrontation with police officials, while he was being escorted to uncover a hidden weapons cache. According to the police, following details received through interrogation, a group of police officials accompanied by a Police Inspector had escorted the suspect to a forest reserve in the Kalugala area in Ududumbara in a bid to uncover the firearm reported to have been used for the crime.

Police Spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana said that the police officers had to gun down the suspect in defense, when he attempted to hurl a hand grenade at the CID officers. Tharuka Nilan had died on the spot due to injuries he sustained to his head. Two police officers were also injured during the confrontation, SSP Rohana added.

Tharuka Nilan who is said to be an army deserter was apprehended by the CID while he was riding a motorcycle in Teldeniya on the Kandy -Mahiyangana road on May 17, with his wife and two children. The elder daughter of the suspect who sustained minor injuries when a gun went off while the police officers were attempting to arrest the suspect was admitted to the Kandy General Hospital, and later discharged.

An intensive investigation into the abduction and brutal murder of Constable Chandana Sampath, an officer attached to the Kurunegala Police Traffic Division, was originally launched based on the statements given by Constable Ajith Weerasooriya who managed to escape from the criminals and survived the ordeal, police sources said.

The deceased officer Chandana Sampath was the father of two children, ten-year-old son, Samidu Umanda Yapa and 13-year-old daughter, Saduni Navodya Yapa. During his 22-year career as a police officer, he had won 53 rewards for his outstanding performance at police stations in Kurunegala, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Iginiyagala, Minneriya, Vavuniya, Chilaw, Mannar and Mundalama. The Police Department last week announced that Chandana Sampath was promoted to the rank of Sergeant as he had died in the line of duty.

My son may be innocent: Father claims

K.A. Gunadasa the 64-year old father of the deceased suspect told The Sunday Leader that he predicted his son would have to face a series of unpalatable incidents after he got nabbed over such a serious offense. However, he admitted to the fact that Tharuka Nilan was apprehended by the police several times in the past few years over several wrong doings.

Gunadasa said it is shocking that the police officers had to fire at his son, while he was riding a motorbike with his wife and two little children.

“It is a motorbike, therefore anyone could see the little ones were there, yet the officers decided to pull the trigger. My granddaughter is so lucky that she sustained only minor injuries to her knee following the shooting incident; the children are not responsible for the wrongdoings of their elders,” he said.

“I have a doubt about my son’s death. Didn’t the police escort my son to the hidden weapons cache, in handcuffs? How easily can anyone hurl a hand grenade at the police when their hands are manacled? It is the police who claim my son was responsible for the crime. But was he found guilty after a fair court trial? No. Maybe my son was not involved at all,” he said.

“If Nilan was to blame for this crime, he deserved the punishment he got, I do not deny that. It is my view that those who are to blame for this either will have to pay during this life time or the next.” he said.

Unfortunate happenings: Police Spokesperson

When The Sunday Leader asked SSP Rohana about the incident he said, “All the time we advice our officials to take action to prevent this kind of incident, but unfortunately it happens”.

Explaining the events in connection with the incident SSP Rohana said that they had escorted the suspect in search of weapons after recording a statement from him at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday (18) morning. “Following the search, we found the firearm, but without a magazine. On a previous occasion, the investigation teams had found the magazine at the scene of the crime. Moments after that, the suspect had attempted to hurl a hand grenade which was hidden in close proximity to the location and in return the police officials had to shoot him down in defence,” SSP Rohana said.

Police investigations have revealed that the four suspects who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs had abducted the Police Constables most probably to take revenge for the punishments they suffered while in police custody.

The police officials were not equipped with firearms or any communication devices at the time of the abduction. However, last March the Police Department had decided to arm the police officers with a pistol or a revolver, in consideration of their safety while on duty.

In footage uploaded to YouTube of Constable Ajith Weerasooriya giving a statement to the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), says that their official uniforms were forcibly removed by the suspects, while they were being abducted in the van. The CID investigation teams had later discovered the remains of uniforms. Some of it was found inside a house in Thimbirigaskatuwa, Katana, which the suspects are said to have used.

Thus far, the police have three suspects in custody while investigations are being carried out to apprehend the fourth, according to the Police. A Police source said that a clue given by a person in Negombo had led to the arrest of the main suspect.

The Bar A ssociation speaks out

Issuing a statement, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has condemned the killing of Tharuka Nilan while he was in police custody on May 18.
In a statement the BASL stated that this is the most recent case in a series of incidents where suspects while in Police custody for serious criminal cases had been killed without recourse to the law.

“In a civilized society state custody is said to be the safest custody but it is regrettable that in our country the rule of law has reached a situation where state custody has become the most dangerous custody. It is unthinkable that our law enforcement authorities and those responsible for administration of justice has up-to-date not even raised this as a serious issue,” the BASL stated in the statement.

Recent deaths while in Police custody

May 18, 2014: Tharuka Nilan (32) arrested over the killing of a Police constable attached to the Kurunegala Police Station died while in the custody of CID.

May 8, 2014: P.H. Sadun Mallinga (17) arrested over alleged treasure hunting died while in the custody of Badulla Police.

April 5, 2014: A 42-year old person arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol died while in the custody of the Anuradhapura Police.

March 11, 2014: An alleged underworld figure called Paalan-kada Heen Malli arrested over the killing of a businessman in Ratnapura died while in Police custody.

July 5, 2013: Mohammed Azmir alias Mamazmi was shot dead while the suspect was being escorted by a group of STF personnel to uncover a weapons cache.

November 22, 2013: The key suspect in the murder of a Police constable and his wife in Kamburupitiya, was shot dead when he was taken to a hideout in search of weapons.

November 26, 2013: Two more suspects arrested over the killings of the same Police constable and his wife in Kamburupitiya, had drowned after reportedly jumping into the Denagama river, while trying to escape from the police custody.

September 26, 2013: Yakkala Arachchige Ariyadasa alias Kapila of Walasmulla arrested over an alleged robbery, died while in police custody.

13 Comments for “Suspects Die In Police Custody”

  1. It is another Police brutality. I am not defending for the suspect. The punishment comes from the Courts and not from the Police. When there is no law in the country we cannot say a lot.

  2. Kingsley

    No person should die under police custody but repeated over and over again in Lanka. Any one under custody will have hand cuffs behind their backs, chains etc which prevents them running, handling any thing, picking objects, jumping and also will be surrounded by many policemen. NONE OF THESE INCIDENTS HAPPEN ANYWHERE IN THE CIVILISED WORLD !!! No police person has been punished for above murders!!

    The real truth may be that many of these are politically motivated and to hide the sins of criminal politicians, their orders are executed by the ‘so called police’ who are actually working as a private gang of the politicians. This is the state of law and order under this most pathetic regime. In H’tota police were smiling when politicians were attacked by govt. political criminals, we have seen photos of thugs carrying weapons to attack ordinary citizens behind police lines. Mr IGP-Don’t you simply have any shame????

  3. Pora Kukula Nilwella

    you have to kill all krimainals . Capital Panichment. by the way you have to educate people in their sozial aspekts. Also police have to kill all the drug dealers and mafiosos and rapists and Gangsters. Definitive a must. The animals must dissapier.

  4. gamarala

    The shooting deaths of 27 Welikada prisoners has not been solved by a high powered commission. This indicates the state of the justice system.Deaths of citizens in police custody are extra judicial executions.
    Our Law Enforcement is now a Murder Incorporated state entity.
    But no one is bothered.This has enhanced the sense of impunity.

  5. Gabriella

    Sorry your Honour. My double barrel shotgun accidently discharged six rounds.

  6. Lima

    THIS A JOKE , IF THE POLICE OR GOVT WANT TO GET THE STATEMENTS RIGHT TO FOOL THE PUBLIC THEY SHOULD TELL A LIE THAT CANNOT BE DETECTED , HERE SEE THE BELOW STATEMENT CAREFULLY , HOW COME THE SUSPECT POSSESS A HAND GRENADE , SUSPECTS ARE HAND CUFFED AND ALLOWED ONLY TO SPEAK AND TO SHOW THE PLACE BY MOUTH AND EYES SO THAT OTHERS WILL DIG AND OBTAIN , HOW THE GAME IS PLANNED BY THESE FOOLS RUNNING THE COUNTRY AND DESTROYED ALMOST ALL

    ***
    Police Spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana said that the police officers had to gun down the suspect in defense, when he attempted to hurl a hand grenade at the CID officers
    ***

  7. HE WAS UNDER POLICE CUSTODY. HOW COME HE SUDDENLY WAS IN A POSSESSION OF A HAND GRENADE. POLICE IS FABRICATING STORIES, BUT PEOPLE AND THE LAWYERS ARE NOT FOOLS TO BELIEVE THESE DAMN LIES. SUSPECTS ARE NOT SAFE UNDER POLICE CUSTODY

  8. Mailin Gunawardene

    We need not just an international investigation into war crimes but also a global investigation into routine murder in now what is regarded as the most corrupt and dangerious country in the world run by crooks, thugs and criminals.

  9. sukirichuti

    Hats off for the BASL for coming forward to raise this issue. The father of the suspect had asked a pertinent question. Aren’t suspects taken to hidden weapons cache, in handcuffs? How easily can anyone hurl a hand grenade at the police when their hands are manacled? What is the answer the Police can given to this simple question?

  10. Namal Perera

    Possible only in a corrupt lawless Banana Republic with jungle law. Only way out is to rediscover lost Democratic Sri Lanka and chase away the responsible crazy Jokers.

  11. shankar

    One wonders how exactly the same thing happen every time only god knows. Next time when such occasion arise why not call the defense lawyer to accompany the suspect. “All the time we advice our officials to take action to prevent this kind of incident, but unfortunately it happens”. This statement sound very funny

  12. The SL Police is a bunch of inhuman unciviliced bribe taking lot from top to bottom, torturing detainees under their care is the worst crime, they are at the mercy of these brutes in human form. Every case of killing done by the police of those victims are given the same reason ” shot while they tried to throw a granade at the police ” police take the granade with them when they take a suspect looking for hidden arms & ammo. all that is bull shit, we are supposed to beleive this cock & bull story. Sooner or later this modesoperandi will come to light & to an end .

  13. dagggy

    The biggesdt problem is that the Services do not apprehend the deserters due to politicians protecting them………

    At least the polie is getting rid of this lawless men who has imunity due to political connections.

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