Court bars Swiss embassy staffer from leaving country

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne yesterday issued an order preventing Swiss Embassy employee Garliar Barister Francis, who was allegedly threatened and kidnapped by a group of unidentified men, from leaving the country until December 9.

The Magistrate also issued an order directing the concerned Embassy staffer to provide a statement to the Criminal Investigations Department before December 9.

The Chief Magistrate made this order pursuant to a request made by Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara. Counsel Bandara, speaking for the CID, pleaded court to impose a travel ban on alleged abduction victim since the CID is required to record a statement from the victim. The victim had made a serious allegation that could adversely effect country’s image, counsel argued.

Counsel Bandara appeared on behalf of the Attorney General’s Department and yesterday informed court that a written complaint had been received by Acting Inspector General of Police C.W. Wickramaratne from the Switzerland Embassy. The Senior State Counsel further stated that the Criminal Investigations Department had launched an investigation based on the written information received by the IGP.

“According to the written complaint, the Swiss Embassy staffer was abducted by a white van on November 25 and she was questioned about Nishantha Silva who worked at the Criminal Investigations Department as a Inspector. The above lady had been serving as a visa officer. They also mentioned that the abducted employee was sexually harassed,” Counsel Bandara further pointed out.

The Senior State Counsel informed court that the alleged victim had hired an Uber taxi to attend her child’s school parents’ meeting held at St. Bridget’s Convent (Colombo). The CID had also recorded a statement from the Uber taxi driver. CID also attempted to contact the husband of the victim who worked at the Nations Trust Bank. It was revealed that her husband had not reported to work following the alleged incident.

Bandara also pointed out to court that abduction of an embassy officer is an alarming incident and it is necessary to record a statement from the person involved in the incident in order to verify the facts of the incident. He further stressed that the possibility of uncovering the truth about the incident would diminish if the embassy staffer travelled out of the country. Bandara also stated that this is not just a personal matter anymore, but a major issue that can affect the country as a whole.

Bandara also stressed that investigating officers had gone to the Swiss Embassy and tried to record a statement from the alleged abduction victim. However, the Embassy officials had not allowed the CID to enter to the Swiss Embassy. Counsel Bandara further stated that CID officials had spoken with the officials at the Swiss Embassy but the officials had not revealed the identity of the abducted woman. “Thereafter, the investigating officers had handed over a notice to the Swiss Embassy on December 2 to be passed on to the alleged abduction victim when she returned to her office and the officers also included their mobile phone numbers in the message. If she was unable to come to the CID on December 2 then the alleged abduction victim was advised to call and inform the CID regarding her non-attendance. However, she had not made any telephone call to the CID,” Counsel added.

Bandara further stated that the CID had obtained a statement from the grandmother of the allegedly abducted Swiss Embassy employee. According to the statement given by the grandmother, her daughter was the mother of the alleged abduction victim Garliar Barister Francis. The grandmother had further said in her statement that her daughter (Garliar’s mother) had packed her all clothes and left home.

Janaka Bandara further stated that CID went to Garlier Francis’ house in Maligawatta. Security officials informed the CID that “the owners of the house had gone abroad”. Counsel Bandara also stressed that alleged victim and her husband could not be contacted through their mobile phones.

After taking the facts into consideration, the Magistrate observed that it is necessary to record a statement from the alleged victim. The CID was ordered to inform Garlier Francis and the Immigration and Emigration Controller General concerning the court order. The Magistrate made this order under section 124 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Criminal Investigations Department Director W. Thilakaratna, ASP Indika Lokuhetti and CID Chief Inspector Ranjith Munasinghe appeared for the prosecution.

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