In a turn of events, four policemen, including a sub-inspector have been arrested in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in connection with the murder of a Tamil youth named Nagarasa Alex.
The disturbing incident came to light when the Jaffna Magistrate, A.A.Anandharajah, ruled in his interim order that Alex’s death in custody was not natural but a homicide. This ruling followed a hearing held on Friday, November 22, 2023.
Alex, along with Suthakaran Thuvarakan, was arrested by the Vaddukoddai police on suspicion of burglary charges. However, while Alex met a tragic end in custody, Thuvarakan was granted bail.
The Magistrate, in his ruling, instructed the court registrar to send a copy of the order to the Deputy Inspector General of Police-Northern Province, authorizing the arrest of the four policemen implicated in Alex’s death. Three of the policemen were identified by Thuvarakan, while the physical identities of the remaining two were also provided by him. Based on this information, the Magistrate ordered an identification parade.
During the hearing, several witnesses testified, including Thuvarakan, Dr. Sellathurai Paramasivam (a local senior ayurvedic doctor), two prison officials, and Dr. Uruthirapasupathi Mayorathan, a consultant forensic pathologist at the Teaching Hospital-Jaffna.
Crucially, Dr. Mayorathan, the judicial medical officer (JMO), stated in his report on the cause of death that Alex sustained multiple injuries, including abrasions and contusions, on his back, upper limbs, and lower limbs. He further emphasized that these injuries were not the result of any natural disease and directly or indirectly contributed to his death.
A video recorded while Alex was hospitalized revealed his harrowing account of torture at the hands of the Vaddukoddai police. He described being severely beaten, hanged upside down, and subjected to waterboarding. He also recounted being denied food for the first day and forced to consume arrack, a local alcoholic beverage.
Alex’s family had previously filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), alleging that the commission failed to take appropriate action in the case. His mother had approached HRCSL’s Jaffna office on November 10 to report her son’s arrest and detention.
Alex’s death in custody has sent shockwaves through the Tamil community and sparked outrage among human rights activists. The case is currently under investigation, and the next hearing is scheduled for December 10.