Thursday, September 24, 2009

"I was beaten and made to sign a confession": Journalist V. Jasiharan

By Susitha R. Fernando - Vetrivail Jashiharan facing charges of helping to print, publish and distribute the ‘North Eastern Monthly’ magazine in his evidence said he was beaten up by TID officers and was made to sign a document which was in Sinhala, a language he did not understand.

He said this during the preliminary inquiry to ascertain whether the confession alleged to have been made by Jashiharan to the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) was made voluntarily.

When cross-examined by prosecution counsel Rohanthe Abeysuriya, Mr. Jashiharan said he never made a statement or a confession to the TID but one day he was made to sign a document under duress.

He said he never met ASP Premasiri Kollure who claimed to have recorded Jashiharan’s statement at the TID.

“I have never seen that officer until he came to give evidence in this court and I never signed any document given by him,” he said.

When Mr. Abeysuriya showed Mr. Jashiharan the document and asked him whether he could read it, Mr. Jashiharan said he could not read Sinhala and only recognized his identity card number.

“It was a document written in Sinhala and by then I had been severely assaulted and could not even stand up. I asked a TID officer to explain what was in the document before signing but they continued to beat me,” Mr. Jashiharan said adding that he was shown where to sign the document.

“I did not give any statement voluntarily,” Mr. Jashiharan reiterated.

He denied giving a statement to ASP Kollure and also denied being produced before the ASP at anytime.

Mr. Jashiharan said he was examined by doctors last year on March 26 and May 10, 11 and 27 and that he had not complained about being assaulted due to fear that he would be further assaulted by the TID.

To a prosecution question Mr. Jashiharan said J. S. Tissainayagam was his friend and he was journalist and was a journalist in Batticaloa.

At this stage Mr. Jashiharan requested for a chair as he found it difficult to stand up.

He said Red Cross officials visited him several times.

Further trial was put off for October 1.

Mr. Jashiharan and his wife V. Madhimalar were indicted on four counts including the aiding and abetting to print, publish and distribute the magazine ‘North Eastern Monthly’ during the period June 1, 2006 to June 1, 2007. They were also charged under the Emergency Regulations for making payments or collecting funds from Non-Governmental Organisation to run the said magazine.

Senior State Counsel Rohantha Abeysuriya and State Counsel Shehan de Silva appeared for the prosecution while Saliya Peiris and K.V. Thavarasha appeared for the defence.

© Daily Mirror

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