Tuesday 23rd of July 2024

English Tamil

Garnier Banister-Nishantha Silva and Shani Abeysekara

2023-07-31 13994


 (Aruna Jayawardhana)


We mentioned at the end of the article, published last week under the caption of “It is true that  Garnier Banister pleaded guilty but the story is not simple” that when creating headlines for news articles on  Garnier Banister’s pleading guilty at Court for making a false complaint to disgrace Gotabhaya Rajapakshe and his regime, there are a lot of things to be considered. The Journalists reported this incident on the basis that  Garnier Banister pleaded guilty at Court since the story, fabricated by her to disgrace Gotabhaya Rajapakshe, did not work. Some reported that the verdict given by the High Court revealed  Garnier Banister’s fabricated story.

To tell you frankly, the High Court did not give a verdict after hearing the case. It was only giving the due sentence before the case was taken into hearing, since she pleaded guilty. But one can argue that she was given a sentence since she pleaded guilty by looking at the story from outside. But it is not that simple.

It was revealed that  Garnier Banister soon after the verdict of the Court, paid the fine, got her surrendered passport and left for Switzerland within 48 hours. That was to join her husband and children who are living there.

The mental agony, undergone by her from the date of the incident which took place on 25th November 2019 to the date she left the country, is not simple. The people who knew the real story know that she was in terrible mental distress as a result of this case. One can justify it as   a consequence for fabricating   a false complaint against a President without a reason and the relevant person had to face that situation due to that mistake. But the story is not that simple.

There can be many reasons for  Garnier Banister to plead guilty at Courts for making a false complaint. Those who are familiar with Court’s proceedings know that the suspects plead guilty at Courts not because they are really guilty. One reason is to finish the case soon.

If  Garnier Banister had made a false complaint that she was abducted, threatened and sexually abused while questioning, she had deceived the Sri Lanka Law. She had cheated the Switzerland Embassy of Sri Lanka. She had played out with the Diplomatic Staff of the Embassy including the Second Officer. Not only that, she had hoodwinked the Switzerland government. If a single female who is living a lonely life at Maligawaththa can make such a gimmick,   there is nothing to wonder about that.

There are two incidents that took place. One was her being abducted by five in a vehicle, sexually abused and  threatened while questioning when she was on her way to attend a parent’s meeting at St Bridget’s Convent where her children were studying near the Town Hall of Colombo, having left the Switzerland Embassy around 4.30 p.m. Her complaint was about this incident.

The second case was on 25th November evening a group of unknown people breaking   off the residence of a teacher who was living in Palmyra Road of Bambalapitiya and assaulting her while questioning on Police Inspector Nishantha Silva’s escape to Switzerland.

But in both these two incidents, the topic of the questioning was the same. It was as to how Police Inspector Nishantha Silva who was serving at the Organized Crime Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department left the country a few hours before this incident after getting a visa to Switzerland. It was reported by the Criminal Investigation Department that they checked the CCTV system of the housing complex of Palmyra but she had not gone there on the date of the incident claimed by her. They also reported that the teacher of the residence also had confirmed to the Criminal Investigation Department Officers who visited her that such an incident never took place in her residence as claimed by Garnier Banister. 

Why did  Garnier Banister want to fabricate such a false incident to mislead the police? If as claimed by few that her intention was to move to Switzerland legally, as an Officer, attached to the Switzerland Embassy, she would have had enough other easy ways to do that. If so, why did she complain about being abducted, sexually abused and threatened while questioning? Moreover, immediately after the election of a new President..?

She did not make this complaint to the police but to the Senior Officers of the Switzerland Embassy. If Switzerland is a country as Roman land, described as a land of fools in Asterix story, the Officers of the Embassy would have taken quick action after being deceived by her. But Switzerland, as we know, is not such a country. But what Switzerland Embassy did was, lodging a complaint at police by the Second Officer on 27th November 2019, without directing  Garnier Banister to the Criminal Investigation Department who was mentally toppled having undergone abduction, sexually abused and threatened, after making arrangements to keep her comfortable under protection. If Ganiya Bannister complained to the police, the complaint would have been   recorded by the police of Gotabhaya Rajapakshe regime.

By this time, Gotabhaya Rajapakshe regime was in a heavy necessity of taking the revenge from those who were revealing and investigating the corruptions, frauds, murders and disappearances, which took place between 2005 to 2014 during their regime.  Garnier Banister got victimized in this process.  But due to the interference of the Switzerland Embassy, the Gotabhaya Rajapakshe regime couldn’t do it easily. The incident went internationally viral. Switzerland's Foreign Secretary, Paskal Beriswill got down Ambassador to Sri Lanka in Germany, Karunasena Hettiarachchi to his Ministry to express his frustration about the agony, met by an Officer of the Switzerland Embassy in Sri Lanka. She requested to delay questioning of  Garnier Banister, considering her poor health. The Foreign Secretary emphasized that the health condition of this lady officer should be given prominence. Have you ever heard that Switzerland is a land of fools to interfere at diplomat level simply because an Officer attached to a Switzerland Embassy made a complaint that she was abducted, sexually abused and threatened, knowing very well that it  can lead to rift between Switzerland and Sri Lanka without finding facts related to her story..?

The police did not keep silent. They took every measure to corner  Garnier Banister. When the Switzerland Embassy requested to delay recording a statement from Garniya considering her health factor, the police took an order from the Magistrate’s Court to record a statement from her. According to Sri Lankan law, it was correct. When a crime takes place, the complaint should be made by the victim. The Criminal Investigation Department recorded a statement from her and took her into custody.

What is the importance of the period where this incident took place? It was a few days after the War Hero got elected as the President of this country with 69 lakhs of votes. It was after getting legitimate power to get revenge from people who assisted in the process of investigating and litigating the allegations of crimes, which took place when Gotabhaya Rajapakshe was holding the position of Defense Secretary. When a number of crimes including disappearances, demanding ransoms and murders were being litigated on Gotabhaya and Ex Service Officers under him during the previous regime. It was not easy to unearth facts and figures, related to these crimes which took place over 5 five to ten years. There were two police officers in the Criminal Investigation Department who were competent in this regard. One was Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara and the other was Police Inspector Nishantha Silva of the Organized Crimes Division.

There was a great suspicion not only to these two police officers but to other few Attorneys of the Attorney General Department who litigated these cases at Courts with great commitment during the good governance   government. What will happen to us if this government changes? That suspicion was correct. The plight they have to face if good governance changes and Rajapakshes come back to power who were marking time to get revenge from them. That became a reality. Due to the stupid acts of the two leaders of the good governance government, it collapsed and Rajapakshes came back to power after five years. The terrible political party came back to power as usual. The fate, to be faced by the above officers is clear. It is a reality that the hatred   these ex-military officers including Gotabhaya Rajapakshe had over them, becoming activated when they are back in power.  

Gotabhaya Rajapakshe had a great burning hate over these people who he wanted to penalize before he came to power. Gotabhaya Rajapakshe would have been waiting to get the revenge from these officers who investigated and litigated about the crimes committed by his ex-military officers who were around him after he came   back to power. He described these activities as mere political revenges.

Those who felt this, advised Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara and Police Inspector Nishantha Silva to escape from the country. Police Inspector Nishantha Silva who felt this escaped to Switzerland on 24th November 2019. Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara did not resort to such an act.

After a few days of becoming the President, Gotabhaya Rajapakshe, in a discussion with a few prominent Buddhist Monks, criticized Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara and Police Inspector Nishantha Silva on 24th November in this manner.

“The man who investigated us, had run away from the country. Nishantha Silva had escaped to Switzerland” President stated in this discussion that they acted according to the anti-government agenda of NGOs.

“Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara too investigated our activities accordingly. But NGOs are not inquiring about those things. They wanted to imprison those who won the war, the Chief of Navy, the Intelligence officers and me. Not only that there are officers who threatened to connect my name too with these incidents. It is not fair. It is not the rule of law”. This is how the BBC Sinhala website published about this discussion.

A few Buddhist Monks, motivating Gotabhaya Rajapakshe, advised him to arrest Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara   and reinvestigate all the cases handled by him. Those who cited that Police Inspector Nishantha Silva’s running away from the country is an utter shame to Gotabhaya Rajapakshe, did not mention anything about his fate in case he remained in the country. As an example, former President Maithreepala Sirisena appointed Mahinda Rajapakshe as the Prime Minister through a constitutional conspiracy on 26th October 2018. Maithreepla Sirisena through a gazette notification took the Police Department which was under the Ministry of Law and Order until 26th October, under the Defense Ministry. Immediately, Police Inspector Nishantha Silva was transferred to the Negombo area from the Criminal Investigation Department. Why? To get the expected revenge from him. The Police Commission had to reverse that decision since it got a huge objection from the society. A letter, forwarded by then Inspector General of Police Pujitha Jayasundera to the Defense Ministry Secretary mentioned that Police Inspector Nishantha Silva was transferred to the Negombo Division on the order of the President Maithreepala Sirisena.

The so-called Journalists of racist newspapers including “Divaina” in their articles mentioned Police Inspector Nishantha Silva’s name as Nishantha Kandappa. It was not only to disgrace him by highlighting his Tamil origin, but   to emphasize that he acts according to the Tamil agenda of disgracing Sinhala-Buddhist War Hero. What did the Gotabhaya government do since they could not stop Police Inspector Nishantha Silva from escaping from the county? It was to inform, through the Police Headquarters to the   Immigration division of the Airport, not to permit 704 officers, attached to the Criminal Investigation Department   to leave the country without the permission of the police by giving the list of names.  It is only Courts that can issue an order to the Immigration division of the Airport   not permit someone to leave the country. But President Gotabhaya Rajapakshe’s regime issued this order, crossing the legitimate authority possessed by the jurisdiction.

Taking the revenge from Director – Criminal Investigation Department, Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara who did not run away from the country, started. Then Acting Inspector General of Police made arrangements to transfer Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara from the Criminal Investigation Department to Galle division as the Personal Assistant to the Deputy Inspector General of Police of the division after seven days of Gotabhaya Rajapakshe’s election as the President. At that time, Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara was investigating the Easter Sunday attack.

Only the list of investigations, handled by Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara and Police Inspector Nishantha Silva is sufficient enough to reason out the imminent plight of these two. Disappearing  eleven youth after detaining them in an underground detention hall called “Gun Site” situated in Trincomalee Navy Camp to demand ransom, assassination of Lasantha Wickremathunga, constructing a memorial museum for the parents at Madamulana by Gotabhaya Rajapakshe  utilizing public money,  disappearing  veteran Journalist Pradeep Eknaligoda, assaulting Upali Thennakoon and trying to kidnap him, kidnapping Keeth Noyer and assaulting him under detention, murder of Rugger player Washeem Thajudeen, shooting at “Rathupassala” , assassination of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra are few of them. It is no wonder that those who investigated these cases getting exposed to the hatred of Rajapakse to lead a normal life..? On few occasions former President Maithreelapa Sirisena criticized   arresting Intelligence Officers of forces.

Then Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara was arrested and remanded. He was taken into custody for the charges of fabricating documents, related to the case against Deputy Inspector General of Police Vas Gunawardena. The National Human Rights Commission had to remind the Commissioner General of Prisons to transfer Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara from the Mahara Remand to the Criminal Investigation Department’s hospital since he was suffering from COVID-19. Sub Inspector Sugath Mendis was taken into custody and remanded who was assisting these investigations during the previous government.

It was highlighted by the media that Sub Police Inspector Sugath Mohan Mendis, making a special statement in front of the Gampaha Magistrate that he was forced by a higher ranker of the Colombo Crimes Division to give evidence against Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara’s Court case. Attorney at Law, Thyagi Ruwanpathirana, Inspector of South Asian Affairs of Amnesty Organization too had mentioned that Sugath Mendis was taken into custody for refusing to give false evidence against Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara. What   Shani Abeysekara did not meet was the loss of life.

Ultimately Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara could get bail from the remand custody on an order, issued by the Appeal Court. This was a part of  Garnier Banister’s story. This background will help to understand her pleading guilty at Court. The revenge of Police Inspector Nishantha Silva who escaped to Switzerland was taken from  Garnier Banister.

Even though Garnier Banister got bail from the remand custody, she was banned from leaving the country by surrendering her passport. She had to lead a life as a person who betrayed President Gotabhaya Rajapakshe and the country. She was not permitted to visit her husband and children who were living in Switzerland. For that purpose she had to wait until the case which is pending against her at the High Court, comes to an end. She should be freed and acquitted by Court for her to go out of the country. There were around eighty names in the list of witnesses in her case. Even though all the witnesses are not summoned, in case half comes to Court to give evidence,   the time period can be predicted. Isn't it the reason for pleading guilty by Garnier Banister at Court when combined all these facts.