Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sri Lanka: Disgusting! Suspect wants water – Police Sgt. urinates in his mouth

On 8 May 2014, Sanjeewa having received a call from his mother on 4 May left his home at 164, Heenagara, Medagama, Panirendawa, with the intention of visiting his father who had been brought home after a stint in hospital. He arrived in Ampara (two kilometres from Priyangala, to Rajiwelathenna) at 6.30 p.m. Then Sunil, the owner of the cycle repair shop at which Sanjeewa works, called him at around 7.30 p.m. and inquired whether eight university friends of his could stay at Sanjeewa's parents house in Ampara for a couple of days from 8 May onwards, to which he agreed and gave him the address when asked.

"Sunil then called me in five minutes and told me that the police were looking for me. He told me to stay in Ampara. After speaking to my parents, I told Sunil that since I have done no wrong I will come first thing in the morning on 9 May by bus to Chilaw. At 5:00 a.m. before I could drink the cup of tea my mother had made me, two dark looking, tattooed, long-haired, bearded persons came to the kitchen and grabbed me.

One of the persons hit me on the face and handcuffed me and at the front entrance the same was done to my wife's younger brother, M.K. Nuwan Chamara, who also accompanied me to Ampara. Six in total came inside the house and two others were near the blue Gallant van. They then asked for money and rummaged my bag, ripped my other trouser and only found Rs 1,300 in my purse after which they took my National Identity Card and mobile phone. Basnayake told my father that he is from the Unsolved Crimes Unit of the Chilaw Police. Taken near the van I heard someone (Dimuthu – a dark chap from a neighbouring village called Yagandula) inside it, from the pitch blackness exclaiming that this is Sanjeewa and that is Chamara. When I said I could not recognize the person a police officer kicked me saying that I only knew him when I was engaged in stealing."

Sanjeewa after asking Dimuthu whether he was trying to avenge some past anger, had after getting into the van lunged at him to strike, ultimately hitting Dimuthu with his elbow. The police had then put Sanjeewa and Chamara under the backseat and beat and stomped on them and threatened them with death. At the Bakkiela Police Station, they were not taken in but were instead given a written document stating that they were being taken in on suspicion. At 4.30 p.m. they were brought to the Chilaw Police Station.

"They then kicked us and asked us to sit in the verandah room until they got changed. A black sunglass wearing man showed us two photographs and asked whether we knew the two who were in the pictures. When we denied any knowledge, a rather fair fat man then told us that it was the two of us."

Meanwhile elsewhere...
Elsewhere in Sanjeewa's village of Panirendawa, it is 4.30 a.m. on 10 May 2014 at his house in Godella, 36-year-old three-wheel driver Presley 'Gamini' Fernando is soundly asleep . Four persons dressed in civil and calling themselves police officers arrive with two positioning themselves at the front door while two take the rear. The two at the backdoor announces that they are the police, while also querying him whether there was a woman in the house, at which point Presley opens the front door. Two officers barge in and handcuff him after verifying whether his name is Gamini (a name that the villagers call him by).

Presley's predicament...
"Being brutally shoved as they stormed in, my sarong fell down and they hit me twice on the face with their hands. Then my wife who is recovering from a heart surgery and is not supposed to undergo any shock to her fragile nervous system, as per doctors' orders, fell down unconscious. They then removed my cuffs and asked me to lift her up, which I did and after placing her on the bed I sprinkled some water on her face to revive her. This is when my eight-year-old son, Sonal Mindika woke up and started screaming. An uncle of ours in the vicinity hearing this came running with a stick and came through the rear entrance. When the police asked him whether he came with a stick to assault them, he said that it was merely as precautionary measure, because in these times it could even be robbers. When the uncle questioned them as to who they were they showed him their identification cards saying that they were from the police."
The police officers had then taken him through the front door, tied his handcuffs to his three-wheeler (bought on lease) and had whisked him off to the Chilaw Police instead of the Madampe Police, which is the closest jurisdiction.

"They did not take me inside the police station but took me out back to the one before last room in a stretch of outstation officers' quarters which had a small chair, a pedestal bunk and a green rope tied to the ceiling, and three men were already there. Three villagers were there and when asked if I knew any of them I said I knew the first person (Dimuthu) who had been arrested as I had worked with him previously in a quarry before severing all ties.

When I said I did not know the other two, they hit me on buttocks with a pole. I asked them what I had done wrong yet they beat me again at which point I lost consciousness. They then dragged me out back, poured some water on me and with poles in their hands forced me to strip without telling me the reasons why. I was with handcuffs but they severely beat me. The handcuffs were then taken off and my hands were tied behind my back and they told me to get on the bunk and then tied my hands to the rope. The police then while hoisting me up kicked the chair from underneath and while I screamed they beat me brutally saying that their intention was to break my hands and feet. The other three were brought in later and I still identified only one – Dimuthu."

Sanjeewa added that "I argued about taking my clothes off and two with a nunchaku and Giniseeriya (Glinicidia Cepium) stumps beat the soles of my feet. They did not question us at any point but beat us when we told them that they could punish us after telling us what we had done wrong. I was asked to turn around and place my hands on the wall and they hit me on my buttocks seven times and when I turned they hit me with the nunchaku. Once my hands were tied behind my back I was placed on the ground and further assaulted by five persons. When taken to another room I could not climb the chair as I could not feel my legs. They beat me up again and when I was hoisted halfway to the ceiling I felt muscles tearing under three minutes and was feeling unable to breathe."

The police at this point as they had done previously with Sanjeewa and Chamara, (thanks to Dimuthu who said that, Sanjeewa, Chamara and Presley had committed the robbery) saw fit to accuse Presley of breaking into shops, particularly the David Shop in Sembukattiya. "Dimuthu was taken away and I was beaten and Chamara was brought to the room at 7.30 p.m. naked, beaten with his kneecaps shattered. I was hung for half-an-hour and when I could take it no more; Chamara crawled over and somehow stood up and kept me on his shoulders for another half-an-hour. A short black man then hit Chamara in the kneecaps with a pole and took him to another room. I was untied and I immediately fell of the chair. Basnayake after pissing on me informed the others to not give any water to me. Earlier we were given only soapy water and never at any point was any food given," Sanjeewa remembered.
At 9 p.m. on 9 May, Sanjeewa and Chamara were hung again.

Merciless inhuman torture continues...
"Dimuthu who framed me then asked me to confess. I asked him what wrong I had done to him. The police then crushed red chillies and black peppercorns in a coconut shell and rubbed it on to my genitals and all over my face. I screamed that it was burning and stinging. They hit me on my genitals with a piece of a pole. I was then asked to sit on the bunk and then they beat my legs mercilessly until they were swollen. They stomped on me with their shoes. The bones and joints in my hands have all burst," Presley continued.

"The paste was rubbed all over our bodies and we were swung with our arms tied to the ceiling rope. I blacked out at some point and was again beaten when I was prone, inert and lifeless. My soles were swollen. At 10.45 p.m. we were placed in leg cuffs and on 10 May at 6 a.m. they brought in Presley while we were sleeping. I was kicked and when Chamara helped me up they asked if we knew Presley to which we said no and Presley too said that he did not know us. The soles of my feet received blows again," Sanjeewa reminisced.

According to Sanjeewa, Presley fell down unconscious when he was kicked in the chest at which point a short black man pressed his heel on Presley's chest and turned while applying the pressure of his weight.
Maliciously framed they then realize...

"Telling us to admit to the wrongdoings, we were dragged and beaten again. At no point was Dimuthu ever beaten. They then took photographs of us and send them to Colombo after they got them back in two hours it was proven that we were not the ones in the photos. They then applied medicinal oil while discussing our fate. The general consensus was to just release us while keeping me on to give medication and release leisurely at a later date. Basnayake said that we might cause trouble for the police once outside if the word got out. He then suggested that the false case regarding the alleged robbery of the David Shop in Sembukattiyabe filed as a suit against the three of us before releasing."

The police then hit Dimuthu who spilled the beans in that he had framed the other three without any factual basis and that Sanjeewa, Chamara and Presley had hadno connection whatsoever to the robbery, something which he repeated to the Madampe Police again on 15 May.

 11 May 2014 – 16 May 2014
Presley noted that the four suspects were then taken to meet a police bigwig in a big police building by the Chilaw lagoon.

"On being questioned, I told the officer that I have never stolen. I was then shown a photograph and they insisted to me that it was I who was in it. Sergeant Basnayake then gritted his teeth, dragged me out and kicked me so hard near the stairwell that I rolled right down. He grabbed me by my hair and hit me on my face, this is when my lips cracked open and I started bleeding profusely all over the place."

Produced in Courts...
The foursome was produced before the Chilaw District Court on 16 May, at which Dimuthu told the Judge about his betrayal of the other three.

Presley observed that when they attempted to find attorneys to represent them, the police dissuaded them saying that they had to do nothing and that everything was taken care of. "Our bail was set at Rs 10,000 each, and in my case, my wife with much difficulty had to find the money. However, stating that I did not have a copy of the three-wheeler's leasing agreement, they sent me to the Negombo Prison for four days. A known party came and applied Siddhalepa but the pain was agonizing and unbearable at night. Doctors have since advised me to not use my hands for about six or seven months."

"We were also forced to admit falsely to the alleged crimes. They threatened us to not go to even a hospital, adding that they would shoot us and throw us in the Ocean after taking us in again. For one month and 10 days we could not go to the hospital as a result. They visited me only once to take me to apply medication but since we do not have money, they declined to help subsequently. Even they however, admitted that Sanjeewa, Chamara and I were innocent."

Basnayake threatened to bomb us or take us in again after placing a packet of drugs, Sanjeewa (who had only been given three medicinal oil sessions by this point) cried.

"In fear we never went to the hospital. We do not have even Rs 2,500 to channel a doctor even though, we have been advised to and the doctors have repeatedly remonstrated against us for not doing so. "

21 May 2014
Presley was finally granted and released bail.

8 August 2014
There is case against which we know nothing about on 8 August, Presley remarked.
"The lawyer told us that we had broken into two shops and this was what it was about. I do not even know about some of the shops which we were additionally charged with. We ask why they put these trumped up charges."

Present status of Sanjeewa, Presley and their families
Sanjeewa's left and right hands are completely useless, and according to the doctors treating him at the Ragama General Hospital (doctors from the Chilaw General Hospital secretly took him to the Ragama General Hospital as the responsible policemen had visited him in the Chilaw General Hospital) it will take four years for the arms to return to a point where he could use them and for him to also refrain from any kind of heavy duty work.

"All I ask is that my hands be cured. My son asks for something to eat and drink the moment he wakes up. How am I supposed to get him food and drinks? The cycle repair shop is now closed. I had to sell my bicycle to get medicine on 14 July. I can barely walk as my feet are swollen. We have no one to tell these things to. Nothing has happened to Dimuthu – he is rich and has vehicles."
Meanwhile, Sonal Mindika Fernando, a third year at the Godella Kanishta Vidyalaya is mentally depressed and has collapsed several times at school.

"What can we possibly do to survive? We have never stolen and have always asked when we did not have something. Even the villagers look at us suspiciously. We live in poverty yet we have troubled no one. I am afraid my son will also get sick like my wife," Presley laments.

Police version
Police Media Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana said that while statements had been recorded from the victims, Assistant Superintendent of Police in Anamaduwa was conducting the inquiry.
Sergeant Basnayake denied any involvement, calling the allegations false.

The end
Although their horrifying, nightmarish ordeal of Kafkaesque and Hitchcockian proportions was the same, the final sentiments of the two les miserables markedly differ, with Presley cursing them with death and Sanjeewa's voice wracked with sobs trailing off,

"I think it would have been better if I had died when they were beating me."

Ceylon Today