Police accused of torture at inquest
| Date: 19981202
The inquest into the death of Sathasivam Sanjeevan, an 18 year old school student who died in the Sri Lankan Police custody on October 15, was held at the Kalmunai District court on November 26. His father, Vadivel Sathasivam, 42, testifying in the courts said his son had been tortured in police custody.
The Police, however, claimed that Sanjeevan was killed by the Liberation Tigers, during a confrontation that occurred while he was being transported for police interrogation.
Sathasivam Sanjeevan, from Paandiruppu, was studying at Wesley College in Kalmunai. He was an Advanced Level (GCE-A/L) student.
He was arrested by the Sri Lankan Police, along with four others, during a search operation at Paandiruppu on October 13.
Following are the extracts of his father's testimony in the courts:
"My son had not returned home at 7 p.m. that day. I went to my sister's house following morning and inquired whether my son had been there."
"I was told about the arrests of 5 persons at Paandiruppu the previous day. I did not know where they had been taken. I went to the Kalmunai police station and filed an entry."
"I came to know that my son was detained at the Kalmunai Police station and I went there to see my son. The Police did not allow me to see him. I went to the Police station latter with an advocate and my wife."
"My son was held in the second floor in the police station. He could not lift his hands. The right side of his neck was swollen. But there were no injuries on his neck. He could not stand up on his own. I asked him how he got the wounds. He said he was beaten up by the police. I came to know that police had tied him to a post at the spot he was arrested and beaten him."
"I gave him "soda". He said he could not drink any thing. It was October 14 around 5 p.m."
"I asked the policemen whether they would release him. They said that he would be released after they had completed their inquiries."
"The next day, October 15, a Sunday, I went to the police station. The police brought him down from the second floor."
"His condition was worse that day. I gave him soda. He could not drink that day too. He begged me to get him released."
"I went again to the Police station the following morning, October 16. I was told that my son had been taken to Ampara police station."
"The same evening the police sent me message. A woman came and told us that my son would be transferred to the Badulla Police and we could see him at the Ampara Police station that evening. It was late and we could not travel to Ampara."
"The following morning (October 17) we went to the Ampara Police station. Then we went to Government hospital there."
"We were told that our son had died. The hospital authorities said that his body was at the mortuary and we could see the body only after the Police from Sammanthurai had arrived. The Police arrived latter and asked us whether we had seen the body. They took us to the mortuary."
"There was a deep cut on my sons chest which had been stitched."
"His tongue was severed and had been stitched together again."
"All his fingers had been chopped."
"There were injuries on his head, behind the ear. There were injuries at his hip."
"The police did not want me stay there. They asked me why I wanted to take the body home. They said burial could be done there."
"I told them that I had brought a lorry and I would take my son's body for a funeral. They said I would face problems if I take the body with out permission. However I took the body without their permission."
"We had his funeral on October 17."
Human rights lawyers K.S.Ratnavel, V.S.Ganeshalingam and M.K.Perinparajah appeared on behalf of the deceased and the Officer in charge (OIC) of the Kalmunai Police, M.M.M.Farook, appeared on behalf of the Police.
Mr. Ratnavel asked the court's permission to dig up the body and to carry out a post-mortem as there was evidence of torture.
The judge, Mr. A. Balasingham, ordered a post-mortem and asked the judicial medical officer and the police to submit reports to the courts.
Sathasivam Sanjeevan's body was dug up on November 27, and had been sent to the JMO for post-mortem.
The court is adjourned until December 10.