Witness: Police blocked and attacked vehicle taking Roshen to hospital

Magisterial Inquiry into FTZ shooting
By Hubert Fernando

The driver who attempted transporting the badly wounded Free Trade Zone worker Roshen Chanaka, told the Negombo Magistrate that police did not allow his vehicle carrying the victim to proceed to the hospital.

The driver, W. Dhanapala said that some policemen had blocked his way and attacked the vehicle shattering its windows. He was testifying before Negombo Magistrate A.M.N.P. Amarasinghe at the magisterial inquiry into 21-year-old Roshen’s death.

Mr. Dhanapala, an employee of DSL Global company at the FTZ, said that he was informed by the factory administration that Roshen had been shot and needed to be taken to hospital, and to get the vehicle. “Then the crowd carried Roshen and put him inside the car, and the moment I took the car onto the road, the police blocked the way and attacked the vehicle. I got out of the vehicle and ran towards the factory,” he described.

DIG Ravi Wijegunawardene giving evidence at the magisterial inquiry into the Katunayake incident said that, he and other officers were assigned to Katunayake on special duty by the former IGP, since several politicians were scheduled to visit the protesters on May 30. He said that he received the order from former IGP Mahinda Balasuriya on May 29.

Continuing evidence DIG Wijegunawardene said that, when he visited the Zone there were about 1,500 protestors, over 250 police officers and a few politicians who were talking to the protestors whose numbers increased to around 5,000 – 6,000, by which time the politicians left.

The crowd then had become restless, and around noon, they started pelting stones at the police. Police had advised them to return to their workplaces, but they became restless and attacked the police. The victim received gunshot injuries when the police retaliated. He added that the protestors attacked him on the face and head with poles and stones. “We were sent there to protect law and order, and later, the protesters took to the roads disturbing the peace in the area,” he said.

The protest was held on the May 30 against the proposed Private Sector Pension Bill. The main suspects in the case are HQI Seeduwa R.M. Ratnayake and IP Ranasinghe of the Seeduwa Police.

Attorney Chamika Ramasinghe, appearing for the suspects, said that due to the aggressive behaviour of the protesters, 31 police officers had to be hospitalised and several others sought treatment at private hospitals and some senior police officers too had been brutally assaulted.

He said that the situation did not resolve until the police fired their weapons. At this stage, IP B.S. Thissera attached to the CID, giving evidence, said that protestors had caused damage to 14 offices and several vehicles. He had heard that one of the injured had died. After his inquiry into the incident, he had handed over to Katunayake Police, 12 T-56 and 14 empty cartridges and the 2 firearms of the suspects. He added there had been three shootings.

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