Urgent Appeal of Buddhi Ivan Gunasekara

 - November 25th, 2020 - 

Buddhi was 14 years and a Grade 10 student at Nindana Maha Vidayalaya the time of the incident. On 7th March 2008 at 3:30pm, Buddhi was at home with his mother when four police officers including the then Officer in Charge of the Meetiyagoda Police Station, a Home Guard and a civilian accompanying the police came to their home asking for the whereabouts of Buddi’s father Uspatabendige Jayantha Gunasekera. Buddhi and his mother informed the police that Jayantha was in the paddy field. Buddhi offered to show the way and was taken in the police vehicle. The policle vehicle however took young Buddhi to the Meetiyagoda Police Station instead of the paddy field. At the police station, Inspector Nissanka, the Officer in Charge, grabbed young Buuddhi by the hair and assaulted him demanding that he ‘handover the goods’. The Officer in Charge then forced young Buddhi to the ground and stepped on him with his shoes and kicked him. The Officer in Charge received a phone call and he ordered Sub Inspector Athukorale to take young Buddhi out of the room. Sub Inspector Athukorale took young Buddhi to the Crime Division and further assaulted him. The Home Guard Soysa brought in a club and assaulted young Buddhi on his buttocks whilst the Sub Inspector Athukorale held him by his shoulders. After this Sub Inspector Athukorale and Home Guard Soysa took young Buddhi to another room, tied his hands behind his back and using a rope hung him from a beam from his legs. Home Guard Soysa beat young Buddhi while he was hung and questioned him about the theft of some jewellery.

The following day young Buddhi was produced before the Magistrate of Balapitiya and was granted bail. On the following day, he was admitted to the Balapitiya Base Hospital. He received treatment for 14 days. He was examined by a Judicial Medical Officer on 14th March, 7 days after incident of torture. The Medico Legal Report found eight (08) non grievous injuries on Buddhi’s body.

Buddhi, by his father as his guardian, filed a Fundamental Rights Application SC FR126/2008. The Supreme Court delivered a judgment in favour of Buddhi on 11th July 2017 and ordered a sum of Rs. 300,000/= (Rs. 100,000/- by each of the 1st to 3rd Respondents) as compensation and a sum of Rs 75,000/= (25,000 by each of the 1st to 3rd Respondents) as costs. The 1st to 3rd Respondents were Officer in Charge, Nissanka, Sub Inspector Athukorale and the Home Guard. They filed their objections in the case but thereafter were absent and unrepresented at the hearing. 

The police of Meetiyagoda also instituted a criminal case against young Buddhi. The case number is MC 2694 and relates to a theft. Buddhi has been acquitted in this case. He and his father firmly believe that these false charges were levelled against him to justify the treatment he was subjected to by the police.

A criminal case bearing number HCB 1678/14 under the Convention Against Torture Act of 1994 was instituted in the High Court of Balapitiya on 8th May 2014, 6 years after the incident. There have been numerous delays in concluding this case. The trial has commenced and only Buddhi who is now over 20 years has given evidence. Buddi’s father, a key witness is yet to give evidence. He is elderly and suffering from kidney disease. Many applications have been made on his behalf to record his evidence before he is unable to give evidence due to his health.

In 2020, Buddhi received a letter from the Mediation Board and it appeared that a criminal case alleging causing simple hurt over the very same incident has been instituted in the lower court, the Magistrate Court of Balapitiya. On 20th May 2020, the Counsel appearing for the 1st Defendant informed the High Court Judge that a Magistrate Court of Balapitiya case bearing number 27459 had been instituted and that it related to the same incident that is the subject matter of the High Court case and that it necessarily led to a question as to whether the case under the torture law could be maintained. As a consequence, this High Court case has been postponed on several dates pending advice of the Honourable Attorney General. This recent development if not addressed by the state may lead to a situation of the relevant officers creating an opportunity to plead guilty to minor charges and attempt to be released from the more serious High Court case which alleges torture.

Buddhi and his father have been pursuing justice for over 12 years. The Supreme Court judgment was acknowledgement of the wrongdoing caused to Buddhi. However, the state officials responsible have not been punished and the case of the prosecution grows weaker as a consequence of the delays in the High Court. The impact of the incident on Buddhi’s life and future has been considerable and continued. Buddhi and his father are extremely concerned that impunity may prevail and all their effort, time and money spent in participating in the High Court proceedings will come to nothing.

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