The Court of Appeal today issued an order directing the Homagama Magistrate to summon Army Commander A.W.J.C. de Silva and the Director of Military Intelligence Corps and other officers to inquire and record evidence in respect of the ongoing inquiry into the disappearance of veteran journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda.
The Bench comprising Justices Vijith K. Malalgoda (President) and H.C.J. Madawala issued this order pursuant to a motion filed on behalf of Ekneligoda’s wife.
Court also granted permission to include these army officers as added respondents in the Habeas Corpus writ application and issued notice on them returnable for October 30.
The motion states that the petitioners are reliably informed of several developments in the matter that have a direct bearing and connection to this application.
It states that several army officers have direct knowledge and information as to the whereabouts and the disappearance of Ekneligoda who had gone missing on January 24, 2010.
The motion requests that it is necessary to include these army officers as added respondents.
The then Attorney General and then Advisor to the Cabinet, Mohan Peiris, in a statement issued to the UN Committee against Torture on November 9, 2011 had claimed that Prageeth Ekneligoda had not disappeared but was residing abroad.
The Habeas Corpus petition was filed on February 19, 2010 by his wife K.M.S.P. Ekniligoda and their two children Bandara Ekniligoda and Sooriyia Ekniligoda.
The petitioners cited CID DIG Nandana Munasinghe, Homagama Police OIC, IGP Mahinda Balasooriya, the Attorney General and the missing journalist Prageeth Ekniligoda as respondents.
Chrishmal Warnasuriya appeared for the petitioners while Additonal Solicitor General Shavindra Fernando with State Counsel Shamindra Wickrama appeared for the State.
The petition is seeking a writ order from the Court directing the Police to produce Prageeth Ekneligoda before the Court of Appeal.
The petition is also seeking a writ order to be issued to the IGP, the CID DIG and the Homagama Police OIC, who have been cited as respondents.
The petition states that while remaining within the legal framework, Ekneligoda highlighted the political situation in the country at the time.
The petition states that Ekneligoda had supported General Sarath Fonseka as the then common opposition candidate.
It states that Ekneligoda is being held under unlawful custody or detention with the knowledge of the respondents or by others for the reasons set out in the petition.
It states that since October 2009, Ekniligoda had been receiving threatening telephone calls from unidentified persons at times threatening bodily harm and even his life.
The petition states that on August 27, 2009 around 12.30 p.m. while on his way home from Dambulla, he was kidnapped by several persons believed to be underground forces operating illegally for and on behalf of the several highly placed officials.
The kidnappers had their faces covered and had taken him away in a white van.
It states Ekneligoda was blindfolded, stuffed under a seat with the kidnappers firmly placing their feet on him, thus not allowing him to see or move. (S.S. Selvanayagam)