ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday March 2, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 40

Are they taking sides?

Police act on house owner’s complaint, disregarding tenants allegations of harassment

The police acting on a house owner’s complaint had arrested a Sri Lankan born British resident staying in an apartment at Gurudeniya despite four police complaints made earlier by the Britisher stating that the house owner -- a Korean woman -- was harassing her.

The British resident had been taken to the police station at Thalathuoya in Kandy allegedly in handcuffs after being bundled into a police jeep at the point of a pistol. But the police maintain that the woman was brought to the station on a court order after she had refused to co-operate in the investigations following a complaint by the house owner.

The woman who is a regular visitor to the country had rented an apartment from the Korean woman in Gurudeniya after paying an advance of Rs. 160,000, but the tenant had been allegedly harassed by the owner demanding that a hurriedly prepared agreement be signed.

The tenant alleged that the house owner harassed her and threatened to kill her and even obtained the help of some police officers to come to the apartment sometimes at midnight and abuse her. She said that as many as four complaints had been lodged at the Kandy and Thaluthuoya police stations and the 119 emergency service had been called whenever she was threatened, but no police officer had turned up to inquire into the allegations.

But instead the Officer-in-charge of the Minor Offence Branch had arrived in a van and allegedly stormed into the house and using derogatory language held a pistol to her head and after taking her mobile phone and the house keys hand-cuffed her and bundled her into the police jeep. At the police station her statement was recorded and was told that she would be dropped back at her apartment by two female constables but after she got into the vehicle she had been driven to Kandy where she was produced before an Acting Magistrate and released on personal bail.

The tenant said she would raise the matter with the British Foreign office and the Police Commission in addition to filing a fundamental rights petition against the police. Meanwhile Thalathuoya Inspector Kamal Ariyawansa said the woman who is on personal bail was due to appear in court on Friday but an arrest warrant had been issued as she did not turn up in court.

He said the Korean house owner had lodged a police complaint against the tenant but the tenant had not cooperated with the police when they took steps to act on the complaint as a result the police sought a court order to arrest her.

He said the Korean woman had alleged that the agreement for renting the house had not been signed and that locks in the house had been changed without the owner’s approval. Meanwhile the tenant had got herself admitted to a private hospital in Colombo this week.

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