Court rejects torture-induced confessions

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 22 January 2002, 06:08 GMT]
The East High Court Monday held that the confession made by a Tamil youth of Trincomalee charged under the Prevention of Terrorism Act had been made under duress due to torture by the security forces who had arrested and detained him. "Hence I acquit the accused from one case following the Voire Dire inquiry and discharge him from the other twelve cases as the prosecution has withdrawn indictments against him," said Mr. S. N. Ramachandran, Judge of the East HC.

In this case the Attorney General indicted Thuraiappah Kalaichelvan alias Selvam and Kanagasuntharam Arulanandam alias Niles for not providing information about the movements of LTTE members in their areas and several other charges under the PTA.

Thirteen cases were filed by the AG against the two accused. In all these cases, the first accused was Kalaichelvan and the second accused was Arulanandam. The proceedings against the second accused were held in absentia as the Police could not produce him in court for the trial. He had been enlarged on bail earlier.

At the commencement of the trial the first accused, Mr. Kalaichelvan, pleaded not guilty to the charges because his confession and that of the second accused had not been voluntary but were made under duress due to torture and intimidation by the security forces while being detained after their arrest. The High Court Judge then ordered a Voire Dire inquiry to ascertain whether the confessions were a voluntary.

The East High Court delivered the order Monday at the conclusion of the inquiry. Mr. Ramachandran, HC Judge said in his order, "the accused had told court that he signed the document given to him by the police through fear. He did not know anything written in the confession purported to have been made by him. Furthermore the Assistant Judicial Medical Officer Dr. T.I.L. Ratnayake in his medical report had stated that he found fifteen injuries on the first accused. Six old wounds were caused by blunt weapons and four wounds were due to severe assault. Hence I hold that the confession of the accused was not a voluntary one but made under duress. I acquit the accused from this case."

The Sri Lankan Police record confessions from Tamil PTA prisoners in Sinhala, a language which most of them do not understand.

Thereafter the prosecution withdrew the indictments against the accused in the other twelve cases. The State Counsel Mr.Sasi Mahendra said as he was solely depending on the confession of the accused, he was not in a position to conduct the other twelve cases against the accused.

The High Court Judge accordingly discharged the accused from other cases.

Attorney Anton Punithanayagam instructed by Attorneys A.W.A Sattar and Mr.K.Thiruchenthilnathan appeared for the accused.

 

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