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Mistaken arrests and capital punishment - EDITORIAL

29 September 2015 07:12 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Two interesting discussions are going on in the media following the brutal killing of five-year-old Seya Sadewmini of Kotadeniyawa, in spite of the possibility of them being eclipsed by other gruesome killings that followed the poor girl’s murder and by the stories emanating from Geneva.   

One issue that is being subjected to a public discourse is the behaviour of the Police and the media after the arrest of a schoolboy on suspicion of the killing of the girl, while the other one being the public outcry for the reimplementation of capital punishment.

Had the Police not arrested the man who was said to have confessed to have raped and murdered the girl, nobody would have contested the behaviour of the Police and the media with regard to the arrest of the 17-year-old schoolboy along with another man and publicising of the details of the contents in the boy’s laptop, despite the fact that still they could not be the murderers. 

And also there would not have been a public discussion on the ethics of the Police and the media then. 

It has also to be bore in mind that the Police seem to have initially suspected the girl’s father of the murder and the media publicised that suspicion as well. Thereby they collaboratively almost killed another three people in response to the innocent girl’s horrendous killing, it is alleged. 

However, no suggestion is being put forward by those who criticise the Police and the media to prevent a recurrence of such mishandling of information, in the event that the boy and the man are totally innocent. 

They were further remanded yesterday despite the rulings by many human rights activists and the media. It is not clear as to whether there had been any evidence connecting the crime and the suspects. And people or the media cannot expect the Police to divulge all details of an ongoing investigation into a crime. 

One cannot contest the right of the Police to suspect a person for a crime or a remote involvement in a crime even on a rumour or an anonymous tip off. But the reasons the Police had given for the arrest of the boy seem to be ridiculous. 

Having inappropriate pictures in a laptop or inappropriate habits cannot be connecting evidence. The boy in question may not be the only one having such pictures in his laptop. If a survey is conducted on the contents of laptops, desktop computers and mobile phones used not only by young boys and girls but also by old men and women in the country the outcome might be alarming, since this is the country that reportedly top in the world in seeking the keyword sex in the Google search engine. 

If there is evidence of a crime or a suspect that cannot be divulged the Police have to say so to the media, without giving information with vague evidence. 
On the other hand once the Police give details of a suspect to the media the latter tend to believe it totally and take it as conclusive, without taking into consideration the connectivity of the evidence between the crime and the suspect. Hence it is high time for the Police and the media to look at the issue introspectively and ponder upon corrective measures.

The gravest part of the story is the call for the reimplementation of death sentence on murderers. Capital punishment can be somewhat a deterrent to crimes, but not totally. Therefore it is an issue to be eternally argued. But the danger is the reimplementation of it while having a Police and a judicial system that are accused of corruption, lethargy and being influenced by politics. 

It is appropriate to remind here that the Police had been accused of lethargy and corruption in handling the case of rape and murder of the Punguduthivu girl Vidhya a few months ago. Also the media had reported some years ago about a man who was released after languishing in the remand prison for over 50 years without a trial, thanks to the lethargy of the law enforcement authorities. 

The gravity of the plight of the young schoolboy in the event the person who confessed to the murder of Seya has not been arrested at a time when the death penalty was being implemented is unimaginable. 

Human rights activists have pointed out many cases in other countries where people have been discharged of crimes in second trials; many years after the suspects had been hanged. Therefore capital punishment is a tricky issue to be handled.   

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