Retired HC Judge heads prison riot probe

Sufficient ground for a Trial-at-Bar - Ranil


By Saman Indrajith

Retired High Court Judge Bandula Atapattu would head a three-member committee appointed to probe last Friday’s Welikada prison riot that left 27 inmates dead, Minister of Prisons and Prisons Reforms Chandrasiri Gajadeera told Parliament yesterday.

The others members of the Committee are retired DIG Gunasena

Thenabandu and Lalith Andrahenndai, the Minister said, in response to a statement raised by JVP MP Anura Dissanayake on Monday.

He said that in the search operation carried out in the two wards at the prison, prior to the riot, officials had found 41 mobile phones, 22 SIM cards, Rs. 2,140 in cash and over 18 grams of dangerous drugs. "Possessing two grams of heroin is an offence punishable by death," the Minister said without identifying the drugs found in the prison raid.

"These phones were being used to plan and execute criminal actives in all parts of the country by the inmates. They were also involved in drug peddling," the Minister reveled.

He said the decision to call in the STF personnel into the prison had been made by the Prisons Commissioner after intelligence officers in the Prisons Department received information of criminal activities taking place in those two wards where the most dangerous criminals are kept.

"There is a provision in the Prisons Ordinance to call in the police and outside assistance in case of an emergency," Minister Gajadeera said.

The Minister said that the bodies of the dead prisoners had been handed over to their next of kin but five remained unclaimed in the mortuary.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that a retired Supreme Court judge should have been appointed to head the probe committee. He said 27 inmates had been killed and there was sufficient ground for a Trial-at-Bar.

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