Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake revealed that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers had attempted to show a photograph of Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah in the open chamber to a group of school students who appeared as witnesses before recording statements.
The Magistrate made this disclosure in the open court, as the case against Mr. Hizbullah on the alleged connection to the Easter Sunday bombings was taken up for trial on June 24.
Recording statements from two of the students from Madrasa schools in which Mr. Hizbullah had supposedly conducted lectures had taken place on May 12, and the CID officers prior to recording statements through the camera had attempted to show them a photograph of Mr. Hizbullah before the Magistrate's his very eyes, Dissanayake revealed.
Accordingly, the Magistrate said he had to ask these officers to leave the court chamber.
On June 24, the CID had requested for an identification parade in connection to Hizbullah's case with ten students, including the two who were subject to forced identification. If truth be told, displaying a suspect's photograph to witnesses before an ID parade is a serious offense.
Nawarathna Bandara PC, appearing with Harshana Nanayakkara, Hafeel Farisz, and a team of lawyers for Hizbullah, strenuously objected to the identification parade. They told Court that the children had been coerced by the CID officers to identify Hizbullah, and the parade was a sham exercise to “legitimise an illegal process.”
They said that pictures of Hizbullah were paraded over media throughout with the alleged offences, and the holding of the parade in these circumstances was illegal.
Nuwan Bopage, appearing for three of the children who had filed Fundamental Rights applications before the Supreme Court alleging torture and coercion, said that the attempt by the CID to hold an identification parade was in order to have a defence in the Supreme Court.
Bopage said that the fact that the CID decided to suddenly make an application for a parade reeks of malice.
Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, appearing for the Attorney General’s Department asked Counsel for Hizbullah as to why they are objecting to the parade so vehemently.
In response, Nawarathna Bandara PC told Court that Section 18 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act has a provision in which the Parade could be admitted as evidence without cross-examination, and the reason for insisting on holding the parade was to use the provision.
Peiris also told court that the children who had filed Fundamental Rights applications alleging torture filed the Fundamental Rights petitions at the insistence of an “organised gang” in order to incriminate the CID.
Bopage, in response, said that it was he who visited the children’s house after receiving instructions of the illegal activities of the CID.
According to Bopage, he was present when the students had signed the affidavits and made the complaints.
In a trial of over two hours of hearing, Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake revoked his order and cancelled the ID parade.