Friday, November 13, 2009

Human Rights activist released on bail

Mr. Santha Fernando, the executive secretary for justice and peace of the National Christian Council who was arrested by the NIB and at the airport on 27th March and detained by the TID was released on bail by the Colombo Additional Magistrate Ayesha Abdeen. He had been on his way to India for a meeting and arrested after finding documents in his luggage concerning the humanitarian crisis in the Vanni region. He had been arrested under the provisions of the prevention of terrorism act and under the provisions of the emergency regulations.

On Wednesday's court hearing consideration was given to granting bail by the judge based on short oral submission by the defense and consent of the attorney general.

In the morning the defense council asked for bail and stated that previously, Mr. Fernando’s bail application had been rejected by courts, with the reason that the consent of the attorney general is needed in order for a suspect arrested under PTA / ER to get bail, despite the fact that the defense had a different position on the matter. However, now the attorney general had consented to give bail.

According to Mr. Fernando the material in the CD based on which he was arrested and detained, had been downloaded from the Internet. There were no materials that he had produced. However, it was stated that this was a matter to be discussed before courts.

By considering the facts that the suspect doesn’t face any other charges at present or in past, no previous convictions and also that he is 64 years old

The judge stated that she could grant Mr. Fernando bail if the AG doesn’t have any issues regarding it. The state council too didn’t object to this as the attorney general has given permission to grant bail. But bail wasn’t granted and the court was again schedule to be commenced at 12’olock as the document Emergency regulations were missing for the judge to refer to.

The evening session was delayed and commenced at around 1pm after the defense council produced a copy of the emergency regulations. At that point the judge asked the state council as to whether the attorney general had given his consent in written form and the state council stated that she doesn’t have it at the moment but that she can obtain it and present it to the courts on another day.

The judge granted Mr. Fernando bail on following conditions:

* Two sureties of 200,000 each

* That Mr. Fernando has to give the court his passport number and this will be transmitted to Dept of Immigration

* That he has to notify the courts if he wants to leave the country and get the permission from the court

* That he has to report to the TID office between 9-12 in the morning on the last Sunday of every month

State Counsel and TID officers were present in the courts. Family members, church leaders and human rights defenders were present in courts to show support to Mr.Fernando.

The judge also asked TID officers whether detention orders had been obtained as stipulated by law. It appeared that only one detention order had been produced to courts just after his arrest on 27th March. TID officers mentioned Santha Fernando was remanded based on his confession and that detention orders after the initial one were filed with the attorney general.

The next day for the case will be February 24th 2010 and the judge asked Mr.Fernando to be present on that day.

Related Links:
Executive Sec. of NCB released on bail - Daily Mirror
Christian leaders demand human rights activist's release - UCANews

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