The Attorney General informed the Fort magistrate on Thursday that the entire case against prominent Human Rights Lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah rests on a single statement made by a child at the Al Zuhriya Madrasa.
The statement, Hizbullah’s lawyers allege was coerced after the Criminal Investigations Department took children into custody and held them for 3 days without parental supervision before splashing it across the media.
“This entire Easter Sunday investigation which was trumped through the media has now come to this single statement from a child and that too on the face of it is a lie” Hizbullah’s lawyers told court.
The statement of the child, filed in the B- Report says “Hizbullah said he was a lawyer and that he has a university in Batticaloa. He said that if we study well we can enter his university in Batticaloa and become a Lawyer like him. He showed a video of Israel and Palestine and said that the Christians have taken the mosques in Palestine and we have to attack the catholics if we are to hurt them”.
Counsel for Hizbullah said the fact that the CID was relying on this single statement was laughable.
“Who is the Hizbullah who has a university in Batticaloa? Is it this man on the dock or some other? any 10 year old Muslim child knows what is taking place in Israel and Palestine. The issue is with the Jews. The Catholics and Christians live in Palestine and are fighting the opression. This was how the CID fumbled after coercing statements,” they said.
Niran Anketell appearing for Hizbullah further pointed out that the former Magistrate had in fact ordered an investigation into how the statements made by the children were leaked to the media.
“That was because it was clear that it was the CID who leaked it on the very same day it was made before the Magistrate. The Magistrate didn’t give the investigation to the CID because he knew they can’t be trusted,” he said.
Earlier, on July 1 Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake ordered the DIG- of the Western Province to submit a report on how the statements made at his chamber were leaked to the media. In the order the Magistrate said that the issue goes to the root of the integrity of his court.
Magistrate Dissanayake also told open Court that officers of the CID had attempted to show pictures of Hizbullah in his chamber and that he had to, “chase them out”
“There is nothing on that and they are asking you and us to believe that this was all true,” his Lawyer said.
Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested on the 14th of April 2020 and paraded across the media as being a mastermind of the Easter Sunday Terror attack. Thereafter every allegation was countered including the receiving of funding from Qatar Charity.
“It now has all boiled down to some speech related offence which is ex facie false,” lawyers told the court. J.S Tissainayagam and a host of other critics of the government were charged under these provisions previously.
Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, Sudarshana Perera and Senior State Counsel Lakmini Girihama appeared for the CID. Niran Anketell, Shanaka Cooray, Hafeel Farisz and a host of Lawyers appeared for Hizbullah. Hizbullah the Principal of the Madrasa Mohomed Shakeel were remanded till the 3rd of March 2021.