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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Witnesses in Sri Lanka’s May 09 protester attack asked to surrender passport – lawyer

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ECONOMYNEXT- Fourteen protestors at Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Green who are the witnesses for the May 09 attacks by former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa supporters, have been summoned by the Criminal  Investigations Department (CID) to surrender their passports and undergo a travel ban in line with a court order until investigations are over, a lawyer said.

“The travel ban has been imposed by the request of the Attorney General’s department and the notices have been issued by the CID,” said Attorney at Law Senaka Perera who is the head of the People’s Lawyers Association and appearing on behalf of the witnesses.

These protesters had appeared as witnesses and filed complainants at the Colombo Fort Magistrate
Court following the May 9 violence.

Supporters of then prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa brutally attacked unarmed and peaceful protesters who had been demanding the resignation of him and president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The attackers were brought to Colombo in buses by Rajapaksa-led ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lawmakers and local councilors, police officials have said.

After the attack, anti-government protesters attacked Rajapaksa supporters across the country in violent clashes which killed at least 10 people and injured nearly 300. They also torched scores of houses and other properties including vehicles owned by SLPP parliamentarians.

“Only 7 of us filed a complaint to the Magistrate, but they want 14 passports to be surrendered. They have imposed a travel ban on us, when we haven’t even gone home for nearly 50 days. If we can’t leave the protest to go home, how will we leave
the country?” Jagath Manuwarana, an actor and frequent protestor told EconomyNext.

Many volunteers have come forward to argue the case for protesters,

“This is the first time they have called for victims and witnesses to be imposed a travel ban. The 14 protest victims have been called on to surrender their passports, so that victims would be present in the country during identification processes,” Lasantha Manoj, another lawyer who is not backing protesters told EconomyNext.

Fr. Jeewantha Peris, an active protestor at the protest site also has been called in to surrender his

“We don’t agree with this because witnesses are never given a travel  ban.  By tomorrow morning, we will submit our passport to the Fort Magistrate.”

Police Spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa on Wednesday (25) said the police have arrested 25 suspects with regard to the May 09 attack over the protesters.

Majority of the lawyers who support the protestors say imposing travel bans against protestors say they are unfair against the travel ban.

The police CID and Court officials were not immediately available comments.

The peaceful protest at Galle Face will see 50th day on Saturday (28). (Colombo/May26/2022)

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