Pic by Pradeep Dilrukshana
- Both suspects had closed links with terrorists who carried out attacks on Easter Sunday
By Yoshitha Perera
Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were yesterday ordered to be remanded till March 3 by the Fort Magistrate’s Court.
When the case was taken up before Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage, Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dileepa Peiris appearing on behalf of the Attorney General’s (AG) Department informed the Court that both suspects had close connections with the suicide bombers who carried out a series of terrorist attacks on April 21, 2019, Easter Sunday.
“According to the investigation, both suspects had closed links with the terrorists who carried out a series of terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday and teaching extremism at a Madrasa school in Puttalam area,” DSG Peiris said.
He said that Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah had taken 56 vulnerable students from all over the country to study in the Madrasa School in Puttalam and out of them, 26 students were from Colombo and its suburbs.
The statement given by the students were informed that they had met National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim and other suicide bombers at lectures of the particular Madrasa School, DSG Peiris said.
“The students were around the age group of 5-14 and sixteen students provided statements to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Sarah Jasmin who fled the country after the attack was also involved in teaching extremism for the students,” he said.
Meanwhile, Counsel Niran Anketell Cooray with Hafeel Farisz and host of other lawyers appearing for the first suspect Hejaaz Hizbullah informed the Court that the suspect cannot be remanded due to detention order is still in operation.
“When an application for the remand is made there cannot be a detention order. The Magistrate has no power to make remand order with existing circumstances of the case,” Counsel Niran Cooray said.
Referring to Section 7 (2) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which was already filed as a charge, the suspect have to be produced before the Court after 72 hours of detention and if it takes more than the mentioned time period the Magistrate have to be satisfied with the facts produced before courts to remand the suspect.
Counsel Cooray said that the CID had recorded more than 50 statements from Mr. Hizbullah and nearly 116 persons were given statements about several areas pertaining to the operation of the Madrasa School.
“The CID had only submitted selected statements to the Court and due to that matter, the Magistrate cannot give a fair conclusion about the remand order,” he said.
He said that Mr. Hizbullah is not reasonably connected or suspected under the above section and the Magistrate has also no power to remand the suspect under International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
“There have to be materials which can provide reasonably remand order against the suspect, but the CID had failed to submit each and every statement recorded by the suspect,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Magistrate highlighted the fact that it was an obligation of the CID to submit everything related to the case and directed the CID to submit a summary containing every fact reported about the case on the next hearing date.
Pic by Pradeep Dilrukshana