Man with many complaints against police shot dead

A businessman who had lodged several complaints against officers of the Negombo police station was shot dead at 10 am yesterday while driving his van past the Dalupota junction, in Negombo.

Sugath Nishantha Fernando, 36, was with his 11-year-old son at the time of the killing. According to eyewitnesses, two men on a motorcycle had come up from behind and fired at Mr. Fernando. The victim was rushed to hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. His son escaped unharmed.

Human rights monitors are demanding an immediate and impartial inquiry. It is understood that Mr. Fernando had made a series of complaints of torture and bribery against the police, naming a senior police officer and several other police officers.

Complaints of repeated death threats made to Mr. Fernando and his family were filed with the IGP, the Attorney General, the National Police Commission (NPC), the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, and the Bribery Commission. Mr. Fernando’s family said that no action had been taken in response to the complaints.

According to complaints filed, a group of police officers attached to the Negombo police visited Mr. Fernando at his home on June 28 this year and threatened him to withdraw a fundamental rights complaint that is pending in the Supreme Court. The family reported the matter to the relevant authorities and went into hiding. It was only recently that Mr. Fernando emerged from hiding and returned to his home in Negombo.

In September 2004, Mr. Fernando made a complaint to the Bribery Commission against SI Mahagamage Dharmadasa, who was the then Crime OIC of the Negombo police.

That same month, Mr. Fernando lodged another complaint, this time to the National Police Commission, in respect of the sale of a lorry on allegedly forged documents by the officer in charge of the Kochchikade police station.

In December 2005, Mr. Fernando opened a food outlet in Dalupotha, but closed it later because the business was running at a loss. One of the food outlet employees, Dharmalingun Yogeswaran, complained to the police that Mr. Fernando had forcibly taken Rs. 4,000 from him.

Later that month, Mr. Fernando met the DIG Western Province and gave him a statement in which he denied allegations made against him.

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