Attorney-at-law Charitha Gunaratne, son of former Central Province Governor Maithri Gunaratne said his brother Migara Gunaratne was allegedly came under assault by a group of policemen at the Peliyagoda Police Station.
Charitha said his brother was brutally beaten by at least ten cops when he went to give some food for his client who is detained at the Police Station.
He alleged that the policemen had mistaken his identity and brutally hit his brother under the assumption that it was him.
“On February 23, I was instructed by my Senior Counsel to go to the Peliyagoda Police Station to represent a client of his. At the police station I was informed that my client was being held in the special crimes unit, and I saw my client was being intimidated by a person in civil attire. I immediately stepped in and told that person, whom I believe a cop, that he was my client and I was there to represent his interests as an Attorney-at-Law and produced by B.A.S.L I.D Card to verify my credentials,” he said.
He said the man in civil clothes stepped aside without verifying his credentials. “I was duly informed by my client that he was brutally assaulted by the cops on countless occasions while in their custody and they have threatened to pin unrelated drug charges on my client and ensure he will be imprisoned if he did not heed to the demands of the policemen! (mind you, my client was being held for totally unrelated matters linked to financial issues). I made my way out to make a phone call and when I returned I heard the person who was in civil clothes threatening my client in the presence of other suspects who have been brought to the police station for drug related offences and it was quite easy for them to accuse him with similar charges,” he said.
“Since I cannot designate as to what was the rank of the person who was in civil attire, I addressed him as Sergeant whereas he started speaking to me in slang Sinhala and filth as he came towards me. The Chief Inspector of the police station, whom I heard was Linton Silva joined that man to intimidate me and demanded my credentials. Once I showed him my B.A.S.L. ID card he scribbled something on his Notebook.
I simply said to the Inspector that I had no choice but to address the person in plain clothes as Sergeant since he wore plain clothes while on duty.
Then the Inspector accused me of being drunk. I challenged the officers to subject me to a breathalyzer test to confirm whether I was drunk. I held my ground until my client pleaded with me to leave as he would have to face the wrath of the policemen if the situation escalates," he said.
He said he left the premises and took action to inform the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and the relevant Police Department about the incident.
“Since my Client was of the opinion that my presence would be detrimental to his safety and health under the police custody, I asked my Brother, Migara (3rd Year Student at Sri Lanka Law College) to drop some dinner for my client on February 25. As my brother went there, to give the food, he was brutally beaten by at least ten policemen. It is assumed that the Policemen had mistaken his identity and had attacked him under the presumption that it was me,” he alleged.
“Furthermore they only stopped beating up Migara after he had mentioned that he was the son of Maithri Gunaratne, our father, and then an SI instructed his subordinates to charge him for obstructing police from performing their duties, because they knew that a problem would crop up.
They further threatened to even make him a suspect in a drug offence,” he said.