Ja-Ella Police steals money from innocent woman and files a fabricated charge in lieu

ISSUES: Police investigation; fabricated charge; impunity; rule of law; justice
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The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information regarding Ja-Ella Police stealing the wallet of an innocent woman and subsequently filing false gambling charges against her. Several witnesses testified to the police that the woman did not participate in any gambling activity. The victim complained to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) (Western Province North) Office at Paliyagoda, however no steps have been taken to return her wallet or prosecute the police officers responsible.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On 16 May 2017, Ms. Thalpavila Vidana Kamkanamlage Sunethra (42) of No. 15, Dandugama, Thudella in Gampaha District went to her neighbor Priyantha’s house at 5:15 p.m. Sunethra is married, but presently cares for her two daughters alone. Sunethra went to meet Priyantha’s wife. There were several men around the house. After her meeting, she wanted to use the washroom. When she entered the washroom, she kept her wallet which contained Rs. 261, 000, her motorbike key, her mobile phone, passport, two cheques worth Rs. 100, 000 and Rs. 50, 000 respectively, several visiting cards and several photos of Jesus, on the mirror table near the door of washroom. She spent five minutes inside the washroom and came out as she heard a loud noise from the surrounding area of the house.

When she opened the door of the washroom, she saw police officer Rathnayaka, attached to the Ja-Ella Police Station, sitting close to the table where she had kept her wallet. There were several other police officers inside the house.

Then she looked at her belongings she had kept on the table next to the washroom. She was eager to get her wallet, as it had a large amount of money. She very clearly states that there was Rs. 261, 000 inside the wallet, which she noted was missing. Sunethra started to scream and appeal for help. She requested all the people inside the house to help her get back her lost wallet. They all were in fear as there were police in the house. Sunethra informed the police officers about the loss of her wallet and pleaded with them to assist her to search in every possible place.

Meanwhile, she got a call from her home asking her to come home urgently. Her house was situated several yards away from Priyantha’s house. She immediately returned to her home and within several minutes she came back again.

When she came back, Priyantha’s wife informed her that the police officers took her wallet. She further stated that some money in their home was also stolen by the police officers. Later Sunethra learned that several men who were around that area were arrested by the police officers.

Sunethra specifically states that there were no illegal gambling inside Priyantha’s house. Neither she nor any other woman participated in such an illegal activity. She was there only to meet Priyantha’s wife.

Sunethra immediately went to the Deputy Inspector General’s (DIG) Office (Western Province North) at Paliyagoda, and made a written complaint about her wallet being stolen by police officers attached to the Ja-Ella Police Station. She very clearly mentioned the names of the police officers whom she could identify as members of the team who visited the house: Rathnayaka and Gajasinghe. She further requested the DIG’s Office to investigate her complaint.

Then the police officers requested Sunethra to come to the police station on the next day for further statement. She went. Then she was requested to come again for several more days, which she followed. However, she gradually learned that the officers are harassing her by repeatedly requesting her to come to the police station. They did not pay any interest to investigate or direct investigation into her complaint. Instead, they harassed her to give up her complaint.

Meanwhile, she received a police summons requesting her to appear before the Negombo Magistrate’s Court on 7 June 2017. She went to the court early morning. When she entered, she noticed that police officer Gajasinghe attached to the Ja-Ella Police Station, who was present at the raid at Priyantha’s house, was waiting for her at Negombo Magistrate’s Court Compound. After noting her arrival, the officer approached her and informed her that they are giving, Rs. 135, 000 and her wallet at the court and insisted her to accept it. He further stated that the police is filing a case of illegal gambling against her, to which she should plead guilty.

In return, Sunethra told the officer that there was Rs. 261, 000 in her wallet and she needed that entire sum. She also insisted that she has never participated in an illegal activity in her life, and pleased with the officer not to harass her, being an abandoned wife with two daughters.

However, when the court commenced, her case was called and she was charged for the crime. She vehemently opposed the charges and pleaded not guilty. The magistrate was surprised and postponed the case, requesting the police to start prosecution if they had credible evidence against her. She was granted bail and released.

Sunethra later learned that the people who were present at Priyantha’s house were questioned by the police officer about whether Sunethra had attended the illegal gambling. They all unanimously stated that she did not participate in any gambling. The police officers then threatened and insisted the men, who were arrested, to make false statements regarding Sunethra.

Immediately after she learned the above mentioned facts, she went to the DIG’s Office at Paliyagoda and gave further statement about the police’s illegal actions. However, she does not know any action that has been taken against those unlawful actions up to date.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send letters to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case. Request an immediate investigation into the police theft and fabricated charges against Sunethra. Those found responsible should be prosecuted. All officers involved must be scrutinized by an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental Orders. Finally, please appeal to the National Police Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police for a special investigation into the malpractice of police officers who abuse their powers.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ________,

SRI LANKA: Ja-Ella Police steals money from innocent woman and files a fabricated charge in lieu

Name of Victims: Ms. Thalpavila Vidana Kamkanamlage Sunethra (42) of No: 15, Dandugama, Thudella in Gampaha District
Alleged perpetrators:
1) OIC of the Ja-Ella Police Station
2) Police Officers Priyantha and Gajasinghe attached to the Ja-Ella Police Station
3) DIG (Western Province North)

Date of incident: 16 May 2017
Place of incident: Ja-Ella Police Division

According to the information I have received, nn 16 May 2017, Ms. Thalpavila Vidana Kamkanamlage Sunethra (42) of No. 15, Dandugama, Thudella in Gampaha District went to her neighbor Priyantha’s house at 5:15 p.m. Sunethra is married, but presently cares for her two daughters alone. Sunethra went to meet Priyantha’s wife. There were several men around the house. After her meeting, she wanted to use the washroom. When she entered the washroom, she kept her wallet which contained Rs. 261, 000, her motorbike key, her mobile phone, passport, two cheques worth Rs. 100, 000 and Rs. 50, 000 respectively, several visiting cards and several photos of Jesus, on the mirror table near the door of washroom. She spent five minutes inside the washroom and came out as she heard a loud noise from the surrounding area of the house.

When she opened the door of the washroom, she saw police officer Rathnayaka, attached to the Ja-Ella Police Station, sitting close to the table where she had kept her wallet. There were several other police officers inside the house.

Then she looked at her belongings she had kept on the table next to the washroom. She was eager to get her wallet, as it had a large amount of money. She very clearly states that there was Rs. 261, 000 inside the wallet, which she noted was missing. Sunethra started to scream and appeal for help. She requested all the people inside the house to help her get back her lost wallet. They all were in fear as there were police in the house. Sunethra informed the police officers about the loss of her wallet and pleaded with them to assist her to search in every possible place.

Meanwhile, she got a call from her home asking her to come home urgently. Her house was situated several yards away from Priyantha’s house. She immediately returned to her home and within several minutes she came back again.

When she came back, Priyantha’s wife informed her that the police officers took her wallet. She further stated that some money in their home was also stolen by the police officers. Later Sunethra learned that several men who were around that area were arrested by the police officers.

Sunethra specifically states that there were no illegal gambling inside Priyantha’s house. Neither she nor any other woman participated in such an illegal activity. She was there only to meet Priyantha’s wife.

Sunethra immediately went to the Deputy Inspector General’s (DIG) Office (Western Province North) at Paliyagoda, and made a written complaint about her wallet being stolen by police officers attached to the Ja-Ella Police Station. She very clearly mentioned the names of the police officers whom she could identify as members of the team who visited the house: Rathnayaka and Gajasinghe. She further requested the DIG’s Office to investigate her complaint.

Then the police officers requested Sunethra to come to the police station on the next day for further statement. She went. Then she was requested to come again for several more days, which she followed. However, she gradually learned that the officers are harassing her by repeatedly requesting her to come to the police station. They did not pay any interest to investigate or direct investigation into her complaint. Instead, they harassed her to give up her complaint.

Meanwhile, she received a police summons requesting her to appear before the Negombo Magistrate’s Court on 7 June 2017. She went to the court early morning. When she entered, she noticed that police officer Gajasinghe attached to the Ja-Ella Police Station, who was present at the raid at Priyantha’s house, was waiting for her at Negombo Magistrate’s Court Compound. After noting her arrival, the officer approached her and informed her that they are giving, Rs. 135, 000 and her wallet at the court and insisted her to accept it. He further stated that the police is filing a case of illegal gambling against her, to which she should plead guilty.

In return, Sunethra told the officer that there was Rs. 261, 000 in her wallet and she needed that entire sum. She also insisted that she has never participated in an illegal activity in her life, and pleased with the officer not to harass her, being an abandoned wife with two daughters.

However, when the court commenced, her case was called and she was charged for the crime. She vehemently opposed the charges and pleaded not guilty. The magistrate was surprised and postponed the case, requesting the police to start prosecution if they had credible evidence against her. She was granted bail and released.

Sunethra later learned that the people who were present at Priyantha’s house were questioned by the police officer about whether Sunethra had attended the illegal gambling. They all unanimously stated that she did not participate in any gambling. The police officers then threatened and insisted the men, who were arrested, to make false statements regarding Sunethra.

Immediately after she learned the above mentioned facts, she went to the DIG’s Office at Paliyagoda and gave further statement about the police’s illegal actions. However, she does not know any action that has been taken against those unlawful actions up to date.

I request the intervention of your good offices. Please ensure that an immediate investigation is conducted into the theft of Sunethra’s wallet and the filing of fabricated charges against her. All officers involved should be subject to an internal investigation for breach of Police Departmental Orders and prosecuted according to the law.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Pujith Jayasundara
Inspector General of Police
New Secretariat
Colombo 1
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 440440 / 327877
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2. Mr. Jayantha Jayasooriya PC
Attorney General
Attorney General's Department
Colombo 12
SRI LANKA
Fax: +94 11 2 436421
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

3. Secretary
National Police Commission
3rd Floor, Rotunda Towers
109 Galle Road
Colombo 03
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 395310
Fax: +94 11 2 395867
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

4. Secretary
Human Rights Commission
No. 36, Kynsey Road
Colombo 8
SRI LANKA
Tel: +94 11 2 694 925 / 673 806
Fax: +94 11 2 694 924 / 696 470
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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