Vepankulam shooting, gross misuse of power- Judge
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 30 November 2004, 08:53 GMT]
Vavuniya district Judge M Ilancheliyan issued orders on Monday to Sri Lanka Army Commander of Vanni region and to the 211st Division Commander to assist the Police investigations relating to the shooting at the Tamil Marty’s Day celebrations in Verpankulam , legal sources said. Use of T-56 type weapons to disperse crowds when the Emergency Regulations is not in force will be seen as ''gross misuse of power,'' the Judge said.
Until the Vepankulam incident the SLA soldiers attached to the Vanni Area Military Headquarters had conducted themselves professionally, without reports of any untoward behavior, shooting or harassment, Mr Ilancheliyan said. Army personnel should have been fully conscious of their limits to resorting order and shooting at civilians, especially when there was no emergency regulations in force, he added.
The Judge emphasized that ensuring law and order is the prime responsibility of the Police and that the Army personnel only had a duty to support that role, and that the use of guns and armory, claiming to disperse unauthorized gatherings, when there is no Emergency Law in operation, should be considered an unauthorized criminal offence.
The Court ordered the Army commander to arrange for those involved in the shooting to be presented to the Court. Mr Ilancheliyan said that the Court will not set free those found guilty. He reiterated that it is the Court that will determine the punishment to be meted out to the offenders.
Mr Ilancheliyan further said:
- Since the shootings tantamount to attempted murders, the guns belonging to the SLA personnel involved should subjected to inspection, and entrusted to the Vavuniya District Police Headquarters for investigation.
- All items taken by the Army personnel should be handed over to the Police for scrutiny, and the soldiers involved in the shootings should be handed over to the Police
- The charges should be investigated by the Military Police, to ensure that those found guilty of these offences are brought to justice.
Copies of the Magistrate’s orders were dispatched to the Vavuniya District Acting Police Chief Inspector, Lieutenant General Santha Kottagoda, and the Attorney General.
The victims injured in the Vepankulam shooting are being treated in the Vavuniya and Anuradhapura Hospitals, hospital sources said.