Torture victim in criminal case against Sri Lanka
police shot, critically injured
(Hong Kong. November 21, 2004) A Sri Lankani
torture victim in a criminal case pending against a number of
police officers was shot and critically injured today.
Gerald Marvin Perera, whose case was due to
come before the Negombo High Court within a matter of days, was
shot by an unknown assailant at close range while traveling on
a bus at Welisara around 11.15 am, the Asian Human Rights Commission
(AHRC) said in an urgent appeal released today.
The assailant then dismounted the bus and boarded
a car bearing licence plate no 65-68-39.
The bus driver detoured to a nearby hospital.
Perera was then sent to the capital for emergency treatment. "In
recent weeks, Gerald Perera had been under pressure to withdraw
the case" said the AHRC in its appeal.
The case has been lodged by the Attorney General
under the Convention against Torture Act of Sri Lanka, Act No
22 of 1994, which carries a minimum sentence of seven years.
The alleged pressure, by the accused police
and their associates, was intended to have Rerera retract his
original complaint. However, he had refused. The two officers
identified as primarily responsible are Sub-Inspector Suresh Gunaratne
and Sub-Inspector Herath.
"One provincial council member of Mabole,
known to Gerald's family as Mr Niroshan, has also visited his
house and asked him to withdraw the complaint" wrote the
The AHRC noted in the appeal that such attempts
are commonplace in Sri Lanka.
"The family suspects that the accused police
officers in the torture case are behind this attempt to kill Gerald
Peters" said the AHRC.
"If he passes away, the key witness in
the case against them will be gone" it added.
The appeal called upon readers to urge the authorities
to provide around-the-clock protection to Perera, and ensure that
all his medical needs are met.
"This case speaks to a complete failure
of witness protection" said Basil Fernando, executive director
of the AHRC.
"If the Convention against Torture Act
is ever to be implemented, torture victims who are expected to
give evidence in court before culprit police officers must have
adequate security" said Fernando.
In April 2003 the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
awarded a record payout to Perera for the suffering caused by
torture inflicted by officers of the Wattala Police in June 2002,
which left him in a coma for over two weeks, and caused serious
injuries to his kidneys and other internal organs.
It was concluded by the court that the police
tortured Perera after they mistook him for someone else.