A writ petition seeking access to detained lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah will be taken up before the Court of Appeal tomorrow before a bench comprising Justice Priyantha Fernando and Justice Sobitha Rajakaruna.
The petition filed by Chalana Perera, a junior counsel from Mr. Hizbullah’s Chamber, claims that lawyers have been continuously denied free access to meet and obtain instructions from Mr. Hizbullah. He is being detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on suspicion he had links with the suspects in the Easter Sunday terror attacks in 2019.
Detailing meetings which were held between Mr. Hizbullah and the lawyers at CID headquarters, the Petition stated that they were at all times surrounded by officers who were taking notes and listening to the conversations between the lawyers and their client.
The Petition said that it was a violation of Lawyer- Client privilege and a violation of the rights of Mr. Hizbullah and his lawyers. The Petition went on to detail how officers of the Criminal Investigations Department had interrupted the meetings on certain occasions.
Petitioner Perera stated that Mr. Hizbullah’s lawyers have been granted consultations only on four occasions since his arrest and despite repeated requests they have been making since September 12.
Mr. Hizbulah was arrested on April 14 and his chambers searched. The detectives took away two case files belonging to Mr. Hizbullah from his Chamber at the time his arrest.
Thereafter, Mr. Hizbullah was slapped various allegations. One such allegation was he provided terrorist training at a school in Wanathawilluwa, following purported confessions made by students.
However, four of the students filed petitions before the Supreme Court alleging that they were coerced into making the confessions. The students claimed in their petitions that they were taken by the CID officers on three consecutive dates without their parents’ consent for questioning.
Petitioner Perera cites as respondents the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the CID Director, the Officer in Charge (OIC) of CID, and the Attorney General.
Earlier Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake also told in an open Court that CID officers had attempted to influence two children who were giving him confidential statements at his Chamber.
On July 1, the Magistrate made an order to investigate how statements made to him in confidence were leaked to the media on the very same day the statements were made. In the order the Magistrate said the issue goes to the root of the credibility of his court and ordered the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the Western Province to submit a report to him. The report has not been filed to date, the petitioner points out.
The Magistrate made the order after Counsel for Hizbullah informed court that the CID had written the statements for the children and then leaked it to the media on the same day.
Petitioner Perera request the Court of Appeal to make an order permitting them to conduct a proper consultation with Mr. Hizbullah without the presence of CID officers. Romesh De Silva PC instructed by Sanath Wijeywardena appeared for the petitioner.
Source : Sunday Times